A police officer from South Bend, Indiana, was in for a surprise when a 27-year-old man, whom she saved as a toddler, paid her a visit to thank her for saving his life.
On July 16, 1998, officer Anne Hayes responded to a 911 call where a caller reported a child walking in and out of traffic on the northeast side of South Bend. She tended to the boy and put him in the patrol vehicle until other officers arrived.
Little did she know that she would be thanked for her kindness many years later.
Roberto Theiss, who is now a young adult, recalls being brought to the station. There he accidentally spilled a drink. When an officer left to get him a new drink, a civilian employee at the station, Emma Beserra, gifted him a stuffed animal and then spoke to him in Spanish.
Seeing it was 24 years ago, this is all that Roberto can remember.
The long time, however, did not deter Roberto from making an appearance to personally thank officer Hayes for her kindness.
On Nov. 16, dressed in an elegant suit with flowers in his hand, Roberto arrived at the police department. He waited in the doorway for 2nd Detail to complete roll call. After Capt. Joe Leszczynski signaled for him to enter the room, he explained to a room of officers and reporters that had it not been for officer Hayes’s actions that night, his life could have gone down a different trajectory and he would likely not have become the man he is today.
Hayes, a nearly 30-year police veteran, had no idea that merely responding to a 911 call would make such an impact and end up staying in the memory of the boy she had saved.
“I don’t know if massively surprised is the right word or best word, but you know, we do this like every day and you never hear what happens to the kids… and I’m just happy to find out that he did so well and wanted to see me, which is a big surprise too,” Hayes told WNDU media.
After being rescued and leaving the police station, Roberto was put into foster care and was eventually adopted by a new family. Now, he is about to enter the military but felt it important to first make the effort to thank his savior with a hug for helping to put him on this path.
South Bend Police Department shared the gesture on their Facebook page.
“From a police officer’s perspective, a person’s life story may start and end with a call. But in this case, we are thankful that Roberto came back to share his sequel.”