The police officer recalls the scary moment of rescuing two kids.

Sometimes it just feels like we’re in the right place at the right time. That was undoubtedly how Deputy Jonathan Pazmino-Alvarez felt one day last fall after his quick thinking helped him save two kids in a stolen truck.

A Routine Call


Last October, Pazmino-Alvarez was responding to a call in Hillsborough County, FL. As he was going about his daily grind, something stopped him cold.

“Out of nowhere, we see this gentleman running behind his truck yelling, ‘He just took my truck with my kids.’ And he looked at me, pointing at the truck,” the officer told a local ABC News station.

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So Pazmino-Alvarez jumped into his squad car and started following the truck, calling for the driver to pull over. Thankfully he did, and things didn’t escalate any further. Although the officer’s quick thinking probably had something to do with that.

“Typically, for any high-risk call, we will have to draw our guns out and make sure that we get every person out of the vehicle one by one. But knowing that there were kids there, I didn’t want this person in front of the wheel to do anything irrational that could harm the kids,” he explained.

A Happy Ending

Hillsborough Police

When Pazmino-Alvarez approached the truck, two kids were inside — an eight-year-old and a four-year-old. “They were crying. They were super upset,” the office recalled. “And as soon as they saw me, they lined up, they stopped crying. And they pointed out like, ‘He’s not my father.'”

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The deputy asked the man, Kevin Smith, to hand over the car keys. He also reassured the kids he knew they were inside a stolen truck. It’s unclear if Smith knew there were kids inside when he jumped in the truck, but he was read his rights anyway. He was later charged with one count of Grand Theft of Motor Vehicle and two counts of Felony Kidnapping.

After the kids and their dad were reunited, the dad was of course super grateful for Pazmino-Alvarez and his quick, level-headed response.

“I talked to the dad who was so brave. He said to me, ‘I’m so glad you were there’ and I looked back and said, ‘Wow, I’m glad I was there too,’” the officer added.

Staying Calm in Tough Situations

This heartwarming story is sweet because it has a happy ending, but it also serves as an important reminder to all of us in life. When things get intense, chaotic, or downright scary, keeping a cool head and communicating clearly and straightforwardly is essential.

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Officer Pazmino-Alvarez proved that when he kept his gun holstered and listened to a frantic dad trying to track down his truck and kids. But the dad also proved the point by clearly communicating to the officer what had happened. And for their part, the children effectively communicated their situation to the officer when he pulled the thief over.

Sure, Pazmino-Alvarez was in the right place at the right time. But had another officer been in his situation, who knows what might have gone down?

So the next time you’re in over your head or dealing with a very tense situation, try to remember to take a few deep breaths, think about the best way to solve the problem or deescalate the situation, and remember that sometimes, we’re put in places where we can do the best — if we remember to stop and take a good look around.


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