While driving across a parking lot, a man spotted a teen covered in scars. Unable to shake an eerie feeling, he muttered, “I wonder if that is him?” He decided to approach the boy and ask his name. When the teen responded, the haunting reality of the situation struck the man, leaving him shaken to his core.
Chris Thorp, a former Bay Area correctional deputy from Sanoma County, California, says it’s hard not to believe in a higher power after the stars aligned, causing him to cross paths with a child he had met 13 years before. Chris was supposed to be on an Operation Enduring Warrior/Task Force Sentinel phone call one evening but ended up having to pick up his wife Jenah from work instead. Little did he know, his small change of plans would have a huge impact, leading to a chance encounter with someone from 13 haunting years before.
While taking Jenah to pick up her car from the mechanic, Chris and his wife were driving across the parking lot when a young man immediately caught his attention. As he drove past the boy, Chris noticed the scars the young man was covered in and said to Jenah, “I wonder if that is him?” Could it be the child he remembered? “Everything about it seemed right. The age, the injuries, the scars,” Chris said. “Everything seemed to fit.”
As he dropped Jenah off, Chris couldn’t shake the feeling that this young man was a boy from his past. Although he was unsure how to approach the situation, he knew he had to find out if his suspicions were correct. After finding a parking spot, Chris slowly walked over to the teen and his family. As he slowly approached, the boy looked at Chris, who asked, “Is your name Christian?”
The teen confirmed it was. “You were in a car fire in Windsor on 101 when you were 5?” Chris questioned further, and again, the boy said, “Yeah.” This was the child Chris helped pull from a fiery crash 13 years before after three cars collided. Three adults and a toddler were killed in the wreck, but one child was pulled out alive by passersby — that child was Christian, and one of those passersby was Chris.
Chris Thorp never forgot that night. He was off duty when he passed the horrific crash and was first on the scene. “Lt. Rochester, Sgt. Thompson, and I, along with a group of men who stepped up in a time of absolute chaos, did everything we could,” Chris recalled.
Christian’s mother was rescued by emergency responders but later died. Although they could not save his family, Christian was pulled from the car. The sole survivor lost his right arm and leg and suffered third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body. “There are no words for the elation for Christian or the sorrow that, despite all our efforts, we could not save his family from the wreckage,” Chris said.
After 13 years, they were face to face in a chance encounter that Chris could only explain as proof of a higher power. Standing in front of the boy over a decade later, Chris admitted, “I’m not sure how he felt, and I’m not sure how I felt, but it was surreal,” adding that the crash “impacted us both in ways I don’t think either of our families truly will ever fully comprehend.”
Christian gave Chris a brief rundown of his life. “He’s done amazing things and fought tremendous battles. We didn’t touch on too much, but he’s a serious warrior,” Chris said. Then, he went to his car and returned with a gift for Christian. “I have something for you,” he told the boy, handing him his Gold Medal of Valor, which he was awarded for the rescue that saved Christian’s life and happened to keep in his glove compartment.
“I explained to him he deserved it far more than I ever did,” Chris said, recounting how he told Christian that he was far braver and more of a warrior than he would ever be. “He accepted it, and in a lot of ways, I realized I had been merely its keeper until the time came for him to take possession,” Chris wrote in a Facebook post detailing the incident, adding that Christian and his family are very much a part of him.
“A part of me has come home, and at the same moment, a huge weight has been lifted from my heart,” Chris furthered, thanking a higher power for reuniting the pair and expressing how life just amazes him sometimes. It is amazing, indeed. While some will chalk it up to coincidence, it’s seemingly too incredible to just be by chance. Not only was Chris in the right place at the right time to rescue Christian, he was placed in his path once again, giving him the opportunity to encourage others to step up and also provide a compelling testimony by sharing their story.