HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - A caring South Florida police officer stepped in to lend a helping hand to a family of four he found living in the cab of a U-Haul truck.
It was Hollywood Police Officer Arnold Campbell who first noticed the vehicle on Saturday. “I was on patrol, and I noticed the U-Haul truck sitting there at one of our parks,” he said. “I remembered the day before we had a BOLO for one, and I checked if that was it.”
Campbell approached the truck and saw Audrey Cleare and her two daughters. “I asked her if she needed anything, if she knew where she was going, if everything was OK with her truck and everything,” he said. “First she said yes, but then the more I talked to her, she said no.”
“He’s like, ‘Do you have somewhere to go?’ I’m like, ‘No, I have nowhere to go, to be honest,’” said Cleare.
Cleare, her daughters Zipporah and Elayzia, and her father Richard left their home in Georgia, where she had been unable to find work. Richard is a U.S. Marine veteran who suffers from diabetes.
The family was driving back to their hometown of Hallandale. Out of money, they had no place to sleep but the cab of their U-Haul. Four people, engine off, windows down.
“My dad was here,” said Cleare as she pointed at the passenger seat. “My two girls would sit in the middle, and I was in the driver’s seat, as far as sleeping.”
When asked to describe trying to fall asleep in the cramped cab, Elayzia, 11, replied, “Kind of hard. It was really hot in the truck.”
Campbell tried to find space for the family in area shelters, but they were all full. “Dead ends everywhere we went,” he said.
The officer then turned to his friend Perry Pustam, who runs the Adobe Hacienda Motel in Hollywood. “I have faith in my police department,” said Pustam. “Whatever they say, if they need help with anything, I’m more than happy to help.”
Relaxed and grateful they have a place to stay for a few nights, the family had another reason to celebrate. Monday was Zipporah’s 16th birthday.
“The officer gave me some presents and stuff,” said the teen. “Some of the policemen gave us presents.”
“I told her, ‘If anybody would have told me that this would have been how we would have lived, I would have never thought that it would have been like this,’” said Cleare.
When asked how she plans to celebrate her 17th birthday, Zipporah said, “I’ll probably have a party, but I would still invite the officer again.”
Meanwhile, Elayzia, perhaps exploring a possible career opportunity in TV reporting, had her own way to thank Campbell. “He is sweet, and he’s nice. He’s a caring officer,” she said as she held a 7News microphone.
Cleare’s goal is to leave her motel room when her time is up, get into a house or apartment, find a job and make sure her daughters are enrolled in school. Campbell said he will do everything he can to help them.
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