Only a few days before his high school graduation, Kazzie Portie’s parents were killed in a car crash.

Lt. Eric Ellison, a police officer from Orange, Texas, was given the difficult task of telling the eighteen-year-old student the news about his parents’ deaths. Riley and Emily Portie were riding their motorcycle when an intoxicated driver crashed into them with his pickup truck. Parents of five, Riley and Emily died on the scene of the crash.

Upon arriving at the Portie’s house, only Kazzie, the youngest of the five children, was home. Portie mentioned that he was supposed to be graduating the following week and didn’t know what he was going to do. Lt. Ellison promised to attend Portie’s graduation and even stand in for Portie’s parents.

In an interview, Lt. Ellison repeated what he had said to Kazzie: “I said, ‘You are going to walk! Your mom and dad will have front-row seats looking down from heaven, and I’ll stand in their place. I’ve got your back.'”

True to his word, Lt. Ellison was the first to congratulate Portie on stage during the graduation ceremony. “I walked up on the stage; he looked at me and I looked at him and we both cried and that’s OK,” said Lt. Ellison in another interview.

The entire audience at the graduation gave Portie a standing ovation.

Commenting on the graduation, Portie remarked, “Seeing Officer Ellison there to congratulate me meant the world to me. It was so nice to see that he actually showed a genuine care for me and my family’s situation instead of us just being another ‘case.'”

Portie is continuing with his former plans of going to college.

A Beaverton resident, Madeleine Cook enjoys a passion for reading, running, and the arts. She is currently studying the Great Books at the University of Notre Dame and is interested in eventually teaching.