Two New York state troopers are being credited with an immense kindness after they paid for the flight of a young woman to Florida to say goodbye to her friend, one of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.
Jordana Judson, 23, told NBC News that she was devastated to learn that her childhood friend, Meadow Pollack, was among the victims of the Valentine’s Day shooting at her alma mater. Former Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz, 19, is accused of killing 14 students and three faculty members with an AR-15 rifle.
Pollack, an 18-year-old senior, and Judson were lifelong friends, NBC News reported.
“They were like our second family our whole lives,” Judson said of the Pollacks.
Judson said she showed up at LaGuardia Airport on Thursday, the day after the shooting, frantic to get a flight home to Florida, where she’d grown up.
“As soon as I got out of the car at the airport, I started hysterically crying,” she said.
Troopers Robert Troy and Thomas Karasinski spotted the distraught young woman and asked if she was all right. She tearfully explained that a friend was killed in the school shooting in Florida and that she needed help figuring out where to buy her ticket.
The troopers led her inside to the JetBlue counter, where an agent told her a one-way ticket to Florida would be almost $700, Judson told the news station. Unable to afford the cost, she begged the agent to lower the price or allow her a bereavement discount.
The agent could not accommodate her, and was about to give the ticket to another passenger when Troy and Karasinski stepped in.
“I look up, and the state troopers are standing there and they’re both handing over their credit cards,” Judson told NBC News. “I’m telling them that they don’t have to do this. This is crazy. They said, ‘It’s already done. We want you to be home with their families.’”
A rabbi who sat Shiva with the Pollack family confirmed that Judson made it home to be with the family and to attend Meadow’s funeral on Friday, where the Miami Herald reported that she was described as a star with “a smile like sunshine.”
Meadow’s father, Andrew Pollack, and her older brother, Hunter, both lamented the fact that they couldn’t protect her when she needed them.
“This piece of (expletive) killed my kid, and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Andrew Pollack said, according to the Herald. “That’s never happened to me in my life. I’m always able to protect my family in any situation.”
Hunter Pollack said he always looked out for his sister.
“I wanted to be the over-supportive brother my whole life, and I feel like I failed,” Hunter said. “So all I can do is hope that (her killer) gets what he deserves.”
Judson told NBC News that the troopers’ gesture to get her to the funeral made her heart “full and heavy at the same time.”
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II told the news station in a statement that, as law enforcement officials, all troopers take an oath to protect and serve.
“We also instill in our members the importance of acting with respect and empathy for the people they encounter,” Beach said.
Troy told the news station that he sympathized with Judson’s dilemma.
“The sense of just being there for your family and friends, you want to be there for them,” Troy said. “You’re going to go through anything to get there.”
Explaining that he has five younger sisters, the trooper said it was a “sigh of relief” to be able to help Judson.
“If that was one of them, I’d want someone to help them out,” he said.