Donald and Crystal Howard went out on Halloween to buy more face paint and candy. But the Georgia parents were killed in a car crash near their Morgan County home, leaving a young state trooper with a terrible task: breaking the news to their four kids, ages 6 to 13, NPR reports. But 24-year-old Trooper Nathan Bradley, who found out it would take their next nearest relative hours to get there, didn't want the kids to find out the tragic news from a stranger; he also wanted to protect the memory of Halloween for them. So instead, he took the children out for burgers, followed by a movie night back at the trooper post, where they were joined by the sheriff and other residents. It wasn't easy. "It was important to me that I would not lie to them," Bradley tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution, noting he distracted the kids and changed the subject when their parents were brought up.
The kids' grandma arrived the next morning and told the children the terrible news. Bradley gave the oldest child his phone number so he could call whenever he needed to and set up a GoFundMe page for the kids, which has amassed $225,000 as of this writing. The kids are now preparing to move to Florida with their grandmother. Not everyone finds the story inspirational. Over at Gawker, Brendan O'Connor wonders if the trooper should have been upfront with the kids in what he labels "a legitimate ethical conundrum." "Instead of associating Halloween with the tragic death of his parents, the eldest—at least initially, and eventually, probably the rest of the kids—will associate it with being deceived for literally hours on end by an authority figure withholding from him the fact that his parents had died." (Hear the entire story from Bradley's perspective on the GoFundMe page.)