Slidell Police officer Brad Peck, 28, met Anita Singleton, 52, as he was nearing the end of his night shift Monday around 5:30 a.m., he told ABC News. Peck was driving northbound over a narrow bridge on U.S. Highway 11 when he noticed several cars swerving and slowing down in the opposite direction, he said.
Peck then realized that the oncoming traffic was trying to avoid a pedestrian who was basically "trying to hug the guardrail" to avoid getting hit.
"I thought, 'Aw man, this lady's gonna get run over,'" Peck said.
Peck noticed that the woman was wearing a Walmart uniform, so he asked her if he could take her to work, he said. During the ride, Singleton exuded positivity, saying that although she has to walk to work at least once a week when she can't find a ride, she's lost a good bit of weight from the exercise, and that she thanks God every day for the ability to put a key in her front door, Peck said.
"We talked about everything, from our faith and Jesus and work ethic, how I was raised, how she was raised," Peck said. "It was really cool -- humbling in my eyes."
After Peck got home, he posted a message to Facebook about his experience with Singleton to remind his friends to count their blessings. When he woke up, his phone was hot from all the messages of people wanting to help, he said.
A local news station caught wind of the story after the police department re-posted Peck's message. Matt Bowers, 44, who owns several car dealerships in Louisiana, then decided to donate a car and a year's worth of insurance to Singleton, he told ABC News.
"I thought it would be nice and refreshing and cathartic even to do something nice for somebody," Bowers said, adding that South Louisiana has a "strong sense of community."
On Wednesday afternoon, Peck "kidnapped" Singleton from Walmart to take her to the Chevrolet dealership in Sidell, where her surprised awaited, he said. When they pulled up, the lot was decked out with a tent and balloons, and Singleton began to yell once she realized what was going on.
The teary-eyed Singleton was presented with two options: a burgundy Traverse or a white Captiva, which she ended up choosing, Peck said.
Peck said that Singleton's story and work ethic reinforced his faith.
"I told her a lot of people would use that as a crutch or an excuse to not go to work," he said. "She never missed a beat."