A Gulfport family driving to Illinois for a funeral ran into trouble when their car ran out of gas, but thanks to a helpful Illinois State Police trooper, Chantel Grose made it to her grandfather’s funeral safely and her son had the time of his life riding in a police car.
Two days after receiving the news of her grandfather’s death, Grose packed up and left Gulfport for Sullivan, Illinois, with her sister and 7-year-old son.
Grose’s grandfather died on Christmas Day after a massive stroke. She and her two passengers left Dec. 27 to make the 11-hour drive to Sullivan. They would return on New Year’s Day.
Grose, who said learning she’d lost her grandfather was tough, faced another huge problem about three hours from their destination. Just before midnight, she realized she was running low on fuel.
But as she drove through Missouri, she was having no luck finding an open gas station.
“It was about a 75-mile stretch where everything closed after 10: 30 (p.m.),” she said.
Right at midnight, Grose said, she was about 4 ½ miles away from a 24-hour service station when she ran out of gas. She pulled over on Interstate 57 and began to wonder how she, her sister and her son, Landon Bennett, would stay warm.
“I was in shock. ‘What are we going to do?’ It was 30 degrees,” Grose said. “The only lights were the headlights, taillights and the stars.”
Landon was asleep but woke up when the car began shaking as passing vehicles whipped by.
Not sure what to do, Grose said she called the Marion County dispatch. The dispatcher told her not to worry — she would send a member of the Illinois State Police to help her.
District 13 Trooper Jeremy Wynn arrived 30 minutes later with a gallon of gasoline, but Grose said they ran into another problem. Half the gasoline landed on the ground as Wynn began pouring because her car has a safety feature that prevents fuel from being siphoned out of her tank.
Wynn had to manually hold the metal security piece down.
“He poured the rest of the gallon over his fingers to make sure it got in there,” Grose said.
When the car wouldn’t start, Wynn hopped back in his patrol car to get more gas, but he only had room for one person to ride along — his K-9 officer was in the back seat. Grose let her son ride to the gas station, and when she talked with Sun Herald on Saturday, Grose said Landon still tells everyone about his experience riding with Wynn.
“It used to be if you asked him what he wanted to be, he wanted to be an electrician like his daddy,” she said. “Now if you ask him, he kind of has to think about it. Now he kind of wants to do both — he wants to be an electrician and an Illinois State Police (trooper).”
Grose snapped a picture of Wynn and Landon and posted it to the Illinois State Police District 13 Facebook page to thank Wynn for helping them when they were in need, and the post went viral — it’s been shared thousands of times.
Wynn commented on the photo and told Landon he hopes to see the boy working patrol in 15 years.