An Oregon state trooper recently saved the day by delivering pizzas to a busload of hungry high schoolers after the vehicle broke down on the way home from a basketball game.
OSP Trooper William Blood from the John Day Outpost was on patrol when he encountered a high school bus that stalled on Highway 26 in Prairie City. Blood soon realized the stranded occupants were high school basketball players from Union High School.
Fortunately, the engine was still working and could provide heat during the cold weather, but Blood realized the replacement bus would take over two hours to get to their location — and the students were getting hungry.
With no convenience stores or restaurants open in the area, Blood decided to take matters into his own hands and drove 13 miles to John Day, where he knocked on the door of The Outpost restaurant. The restaurant had closed, but Blood persuaded the woman working inside to help out the students.
Shirley Taylor, one of the employees at the restaurant, described the moment Blood knocked on the door. “He explained what the dilemma was and that these kids were going to be there for a while,” Taylor said.
She then agreed to turn the ovens back on and prepared five large pizzas — two pepperonis, one Hawaiian, a meat lover’s and a combo — which Blood paid for.
“We’ve helped out a lot of different people over the years,” Taylor said, “but nothing like this.”
Taylor said the trooper showed up at just the right time. “It was probably 15, 20 minutes before he missed us,” she said.
“They were happy to do this, and I give them all the thanks in the world for doing that because they certainly didn’t have to,” Blood added.
Coincidentally, the 20-year-veteran trooper had just watched his son’s basketball game between John Day and Union before he encountered the stalled bus on his drive back to work.
“I saw the bus at probably around 9:30 p.m., and the game was long over by then. I thought it was a Prairie City bus coming back into town dropping kids off,” the trooper explained.
According to the students, the girl’s team had already eaten dinner during the boy’s game, while the boys had planned to stop in Baker City on their way home to eat before the bus stalled.
Union High School Athletic Director Chris Dunlap afterward called Blood a “lifesaver.”
“It goes a long way showing small-town community and support. It reassured me that people do care about each other and take care of each other, especially in Eastern Oregon,” Dunlap said.
When Blood showed up on the bus with the pizzas, he said he felt like a “rock star.”
“I stepped onto the bus, and I honestly couldn’t tell you (how but) the pizzas were gone,” he joked.
That night, Blood was awarded a certificate of recognition and two challenge coins from OSP’s John Day outpost and agencies in Ontario, Burns and John Day area command.
Lieutenant Mark Duncan presented Blood with the coins during a brief ceremony a few days later.
He said that Blood “went above and beyond, showing compassion” and that he “represents the Oregon State Police and their core values well.”