BELLMEAD, Texas – A Bellmead Police officer is being praised for his help in a car crash involving an autistic driver.
“I was scared for him, and I felt helpless,” says Brandi Guel, Nathan’s mother. “And I could hear the man who had hit him in the background yelling at him, blaming him, cursing him, and my first thought, ‘Is my son safe?'”
This is what Brandi felt when her son called her and explained that something had hit the back of his car. For many, a rear-end crash is bad enough – but Nathan is autistic, and could not completely explain what had happened to his mom as he drove to work.
Brandi told FOX 44 News that Officer John Mills saved the day when he arrived on scene.
“Officer Mills made all the difference,” she said. “Because if he had handled it differently, Nathan would have just been really anxious and confused, and he was just calm.”
This was not a first for Officer Mills, as he grew up having someone with special needs right next to him – his big brother.
“My older brother actually has Down Syndrome. Of course a lot of his friends had autism, so my interactions with them kind of helped. Helped me get a sense of how they are,” Officer Mills said. “So of course, I arrived on scene and I picked up on it pretty quick. That he was possibly autistic. At this point, I just knew to talk calmly with him, let him know that everything was going to be okay.”
Brandi says it was a huge relief hearing that from Officer Mills over the phone, which gave her a sense that her son was going to be okay on his own.
“When I kept telling him, ‘Let me talk to the officer, let me talk to the officer,’ and when he was finally able to get on the phone with me, and I said, ‘My son has autism, and I’m his mom, and I want to support him however he needs it,'” Brandi said. “And he said, ‘I understand. I have an older brother with Down Syndrome.’ And immediately, I was calm.”
After the accident, Brandi emailed Bellmead Police to tell them of the amazing interaction with Officer Mills. She hopes this gives parents of children with special needs a new perception of them being independent, as Nathan is now back on the road – all thanks to Officer Mills.