Trooper pays forward gift of $1,000 donors raised after he helped family stranded in Johnston County

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CLAYTON, N.C. (WNCN) — A couple of weeks ago, North Carolina State Highway Patrol Master Trooper Colby Pridgen went the extra mile for a family stranded in Johnston County.

People who heard his story have sent him notes of thanks and one man even started a GoFundMe page to pay him back for the tires. Today he gave the trooper a $1,000 check, but Pridgen isn’t keeping the money. 

“I paid for them tires. I wanted to pay for them, and that’s the way I’m gonna keep it. And, you know, these gifts that people are giving out and wanting to help, it’s going to help somebody else,” Pridgen said.

It’s rare to see smiles when a family of six spends hours stuck on the side of the road, but, as Pridgen put it, “Sometimes things are meant to be.”

It all started when Monica Hines and her family were on the way from their home in Jacksonville to Duke for a neurology appointment.

“The car started just going sideways. We pulled over and the tire was busted,” Hines recalled. They were in Johnston County.

For nearly five hours, the family remained stranded. Pridgen spotted them and helped find a tire, but there was a problem.

“The prices that they were giving them, they didn’t didn’t have it,” he recalled.

Pridgen bought the tire. It came as a surprise to Monica, who said she was worried at first when the trooper approached.

“That man got a good heart, you can tell,” she said.

“When I got the tire off, I started looking at all the other tires and they were in worse shape than the one I took off,” Pridgen said.

He bought three more tires, lunch for the kids, and a tank of gas to get the family home safely.

“If I just put one tire on it and got them on the road, got them on the way, I’d have worried myself sick all night,” he said.

For Pridgen, the day ended with a good night’s sleep.

“It’s about doing the right thing,” he said.

It left Hines with a new perspective on law enforcement. She said she not only appreciates the tires but also the conversation they shared.

“I thanked him for showing me that there are still nice people, good people in those uniforms out there,” she said.

According to a Facebook post, the $1,000 check was made of donations from 16 people.

The post notes that Pridgen said he plans to use the money to help provide scholarships in the Trooper Kevin Conner Memorial Foundation. Conner was shot and killed while trying to conduct a traffic stop in October 2018 in Columbus County.

“The people that man touched is unreal. I know he’s looking down and grinning from ear to ear he loves this,” Pridgen said.

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