Auction for fallen officer’s patrol car ends with an emotional surprise

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GREELEY, Colo. -- Five years ago, a teenager in Colorado lost his father. Sheriff's Deputy Sam Brownlee was killed in the line of duty. His son Tanner wanted to have one more memory of his dad, his patrol car.

The problem was the teen couldn't afford it at an auction held at the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.

“We wanted to remember this car and the deputy who drove it in a little different fashion,” Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams told KCNC-TV.

Tanner planned to bid on his father’s car, starting a GoFundMe page that amassed more than $3,000 for the auction. But as bids rolled in, and the price soared, Tanner couldn’t afford to keep bidding.

“Oh well, we tried,” an emotional Tanner said.

But where one plan failed, another emerged. In the back of the room stood Steve Wells, who had ideas of his own.

"Sold your way, Mr. Steve Wells. Thank you very much! $60,000," the auctioneer proclaimed.

Instead of driving away from the sheriff’s office, Wells approached Tanner.

“Tanner, here’s your car,” he said, before the two embraced.

"This is just so huge. I mean, me and my dad built a fence and stuff, but having something I can use and drive around that he drove around, it just means a lot," Tanner said.

With his brother Chase right at his side, Tanner drove his father’s car home from the sheriff's office one more time.

"It means so much to me. I thank everyone for that," Tanner said.

The auction raised more than $70,000 for a charity that helps families of fallen police officers, and it’s the same charity that helped the Brownlee family after Sam’s death.