When Officer Nick Struck showed up at the scene of a car accident in Brighton, Colorado, on June 18, he saw four young children ejected from a car.
The children’s father, Carlos Torres, died at the scene, and their mother, Stephanie Greer, was injured.
“The car rolled over numerous times. No one was wearing a seatbelt, so there were kids everywhere,” Officer Struck tells PEOPLE. “They ranged in age from 3 months to 4 years old.
While the severely injured crash victims were cared for, Struck noticed that one of the children, a 2-year-old girl, was crying in the field. She instantly reminded him of his daughter, who is the same age.
“I picked her up and sang her ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,’ ” he says. “It calmed her down. She was soaked in gasoline. It was bad, but she wasn’t injured.”
He also pointed to the lights of the ambulance, which seemed to distract and amuse her.
A photo of Struck holding the young child has been shared more than 3 million times.
“The emotions in me took over. I didn’t want her to be alone,” he says. “It was just very sad and tragic. I held her in my arms and thought that she had just lost her father and maybe another member of her family.”
Greer, 23, is now in the midst of planning a funeral for her husband, while her 4-year-old son remains on life support, according to the Journal Star.
“I want to say thanks,” she told the newspaper of the officer’s kindness toward her daughter.
Greer and her family were driving from Peoria, Illinois, to Colorado to look for better job opportunities when one of her tires blew out while traveling on Interstate 76 around 9:30 a.m., she told the Journal Star.
She lost control of the car, and since there was a semitrailer in the right line, she turned the wheel to the left and into a wide and grassy median.
Her husband was not wearing his seatbelt and was thrown out of the open passenger window.
“The 4-year-old is not out of the woods yet, and they just lost their father,” Struck says of the family. “But in the midst of this tragedy, I tried to help, and I want people to see that good deeds happen every day around the country. This one was just captured on camera.”