A bunch of cops surrounded 10-year-old Huston Woolery on Wednesday afternoon. But unlike a month ago – when Huston was struck by a car driven by an allegedly drunk driver while riding his bicycle – the tough kid did not leave in an ambulance.
On Wednesday, thanks to a couple of big-hearted York County police officers, Huston was able to once again do what he does best.
“Cool!” Huston called out as he sped away just seconds after Highway Patrol Sgt. Brian Benfield and York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant gave him a brand new, blind-your-eyes, neon yellow bike.
“Gotta wear that helmet!” Benfield cautioned.
“I will!” Huston promised as he zoomed off to test out the bike in the traffic circle and parking lot of the Moss Justice Center in York.
On Sept. 21, when Huston was in the collision with the driver near his home southwest of Rock Hill, he was not wearing a helmet. He was thrown from his bike, and the bicycle was demolished. He was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte as his panicked family thought the worst.
A month later, tough-as-nails Huston marched toward the sheriff’s office, champing at the bit to get back in the saddle.
Huston’s mother, Melissa Woolery, was all smiles Wednesday.
“These officers looking out for Huston, it is just the greatest,” she said.
Sgt. Benfield talked about the role of state troopers, working traffic and crashes like Huston’s – but the job goes well beyond that. The Highway Patrol’s motto includes the words “service” and “integrity,” and a police officer who sees a little boy hurt and a bicycle smashed doesn’t just forget.
So Benfield raised the idea of buying Huston some new wheels. His supervisors, Lt. Lee Guempel and Capt. Bobby Albert, quickly signed off, so Benfield called Sheriff Bryant.
All the police officers who care so much about this kid – who was a stranger until a month ago – came out Wednesday to see Huston get his bike. Even Matt Shelton, the prosecutor over the case, wanted to be part of something so terrific. They all wanted to show Huston that this is who police are, and how they care about little boys who have their bike smashed.
Everybody wanted to know what the new bike cost, but Benfield just winked and said, “It’s taken care of.”
Benfield and Bryant split the cost of the bike out of their own pockets. Each said the money is not what matters.
What matters is a boy can ride his bike and smile.
“It doesn’t get better than this,” said Bryant, 44 years wearing a badge and helping people.
After thanking the police, Huston just wanted to do what 10-year-old boys do.
He took off on his new bike – as fast as he could go.