Parents will often say they would do anything to save their children from danger. One father made the ultimate sacrifice for his.
On June 23, a 24-year-old father named Bradley Christensen proved that he was willing to make good on that statement.
He was engaged to Ashley Gerald, and between the two of them they had five children.
“Three of my children were not his, but he cared so much for my kids that you’d never be able to tell,” Gerald recalled. “He was the best dad I’ve ever met in my life. He stepped in when their dad wouldn’t.”
This isn’t the first loss the Mississippi couple had experienced. Just last year they lost their 3-month-old daughter.
“When I lost my daughter in December, he’s the one who performed CPR on her for 35 minutes until the paramedics came,” Gerald siad. “He always did say he’d die behind his kids if it came down to it.”
The kids loved him. “Since I was working so much, many times he was Mr. Mommy and Mr. Dad ’cause he was always with them. Anywhere he was, they were. They would walk around like little ducklings behind him,” Gerald said.
He was outside on that fateful Saturday when his toddler managed to crawl up into a tractor and start it. When he saw what she was doing, he ran after the moving tractor. It would have crashed into his landlord’s house, but he grabbed his daughter and got her to safety.
“He ran and grabbed my granddaughter off the tractor and then it sucked him underneath,” Louise Gooden, Gerald’s mother, said. “Then it hit the porch. It had him pinned underneath and the wheel kept spinning and crushed him.”
Even though he was rushed to Stone County Hospital by air, it was too late for the doting father.
“Through anything in life, he was my strength. Things were just getting right,” Gerald said. “After we heard the news, my momma said, ‘He didn’t get to save the first one, so he made damn sure to save this one.’”
His older brother, James, recalled that things were just starting to go well for the young father. “We all had our dark days and he’d just gotten out of his,” he said. “He was really trying to get out of that rut, but what really saved him was his kids.”
“The way my brother went out, he went out a hero,” James added. “He gave his life for his daughter. That just shows how much being a father meant to him.”
“If Bubba didn’t do anything else right, he always took care of his kids,” the older brother admitted.
The 3-year-old girl may not understand what happened to her father now, but she’ll grow up reminded that he loved her more than life itself.