HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Henrico County Police are honoring two officers who helped make a child's birthday special while their colleagues were investigating her mother's sudden death.
"I got a call from my father that my sister had passed," said Charity Rupp, Tiffany Harper's sister.
Charity Rupp received that painful news Nov. 30, after her 27-year-old sister and mother of two, Tiffany Harper was found unresponsive by her boyfriend inside their Henrico apartment.
Henrico Officer Jeff Askew was first to arrive on the scene.
"The boyfriend was doing CPR. I then took over for him doing CPR and tried to revive her and she... didn't revive herself," Askew said.
Harper had died on the very day her daughter Bella turned four.
"I tried to keep the dad calm and at the same time I am wondering what am I going to tell this 4-year-old girl about what happened," Askew explained.
"They were planning to pick Bella up together to take her out to eat. Normally her dad would pick her up from daycare and go home with her, but because it was her birthday he went to pick up Tiffany first to go pick up my niece," Rupp said.
Askew followed Bella's father to her daycare to pick her up but instead of a special birthday dinner out with mommy and daddy they had to settle for drive thru.
When Askew returned back home with Bella, he learned it was her birthday, so he sat outside with her for two hours while investigators were inside her apartment processing the scene. He sang to her and kept her preoccupied but there were even more surprises in store for the birthday girl.
"I felt really bad for her because she was losing her mom on her birthday so as a parent that really struck a chord with me," Henrico County Officer Jenifer Gough said.
Gough asked Bella's dad what they needed to make Bella's birthday special. He said she had already eaten, so Gough asked if she had a birthday cake. He answered no, so she headed to the bakery.
"I had the guy put her name on the cake and got a number four candle and we were headed toward the register and I saw this "Frozen" balloon, I said oh yes she needs a balloon too," said Gough.
"We played games, we gave her gifts, we sang together, just tried to keep her preoccupied without her having to worry about anything going on," said Askew.
"They made it memorable for her in a good way," Rupp.
Askew and Gough were presented the "Chief's Eagle" award for their service. The Chief’s Eagle Award is accompanied by a Commendation Bar and Chief’s Coin and may be presented at any time by the Chief of Police to Division members who have demonstrated exceptional performance, innovative solutions, or unique programs in an effort to advance superior police services and departmental goals. Members receiving this award display the highest spirit of community and public service.
"I would love to thank Henrico PD because they didn't have to do that and I can't imagine how they felt going and seeing this little girl lose her mom the way she did on her birthday," Rupp said.
"I don't call myself a hero," Askew said. "To me, I was raised to be a kind hearted man, raised to be humble, and I would hope that any human being out there would have done the exact same thing I did."
Now a group of Henrico officers is working to make Bella's Christmas extra special. In fact, they hope to adopt her for the holiday.