What goes around comes around for pair

GARRISON WELLS Updated: December 22, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: December 22, 2012

Wilma Harrison met her guardian angel Friday.

He was dressed in a blue uniform, carried a pistol and pulled up in a Colorado Springs police car.

The 82-year-old resident of Pikes Peak Towers hadn’t been entirely sure who replaced four wheels and tires on her car after the originals were stolen Aug. 19.

That Friday night, they were gone, her car resting on its frame in the retirement home’s parking lot.

Saturday, they were back, with an anonymous note.

“I didn’t do this for credit,” said officer Jason Ragland, who took about four hours of that Saturday to find the wheels and tires, take them to get mounted and balanced, and then put them on the car with help from a friend. “This is who I am,” he said. “It’s how my mom raised me.”

They met Friday in the lobby of the retirement home. The burly, crew-cut cop towered over the tiny, feisty woman.

“I’m the one who put the tires and wheels on your car,” Ragland told her.

“You did it?” she answered. “I can’t believe it.”

“I told you on the phone,” Ragland said. “Good things happen to good people.”

Wilma hugged Ragland.

“What can I do for you?” she asked.

“Just keep doing nice things,” he said.

Ragland says he believes he was meant to help Wilma.

“There are no accidents,” he said. “If you wait and look for it, everything has a reason.”

A 13-year veteran of the police department, Ragland was working the phones Aug. 19 when he got a call from a woman reporting that someone had stolen the wheels off her car at the low-income retirement home on Eastlake Boulevard.

“She was crying. She was in her 80s, but could still drive and used the car to help others in the building,” Ragland said.

Wilma, he found out, used the car to help others visit doctor’s offices and run errands.

“She couldn’t afford new tires,” he said. “She lived on a fixed income, had no savings or resources.”

Two neighbors had doctor’s appointments and Wilma didn’t know how she would help them get there without her car.

“She’s not worried about herself,” Ragland said.

He quickly made up his mind.

“She sounds like an amazing woman and I thought: ‘I can fix this. I can make it right,’ ” he said.

He made two calls, one to a salvage yard, where he located the same model Saturn Wilma owned and the other to Discount Tires at Academy Boulevard and Platte Avenue where he talked with Jason Mitchell, the assistant manager.

After hearing the story, Mitchell agreed to a free mount and balance.

“It’s what we do for people,” he said. “It’s the way we’ve always been, to help people when they need help.”

Ragland spent an hour and a half at the salvage yard, pushing a wheelbarrow up and down rows of cars looking for wheels and tires that would fit Wilma’s car. He got lucky.

“Three tires were decent, the fourth had a bulge on the sidewall,” he said. “Four tires, five-lug wheels for a Saturn, to find that was really tough.”

When he got to Discount, Mitchell told him the tire with the bulge was unsafe. He gave Ragland a new one at half price.

Then Ragland and his friend went to the high-rise and found the car sitting on its frame. Since he had only brought a regular car jack, putting the wheels on the car wasn’t easy.

He had to rock the car back and forth to get enough space to push the jack under on one end. While he was installing the wheels, some seniors who lived in the building stopped and watched.

“They said she is such a wonderful person,” Ragland said. It was nice to get feedback from her friends who told me what a good person she was, all about the love.”

It was hard but rewarding.

“When I drove away from there, it was probably about 6:15 p.m.” he said. “It was a pretty good day’s work.”

He left the tire warranty on her car with a note to contact Jason at Discount Tires.
This isn’t the first time that Ragland has helped anonymously. He’s been known to leave money in doors, buy groceries for people.

“Nobody knows. Not my parents, my friends, my kids,” he said. “Nobody knows what I do. A lot of cops are like that. They don’t even tell their families.”

For Ragland, moments like this are the balance to a career where he sees the seamier side of life. It’s also the way he would like the world to be.

“You go on these calls, and you see people hurt, and you have phone numbers you can give them, but there’s certain situations like this lady where’s there’s nobody to help her put tires on her car,” Ragland said. “These moments are for me. They are ‘me moments.’ I see enough pain.”

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