Shelby Smith was tragically killed by a drunk driver 22 years ago and Indianapolis Police Officer Jeff Stagg made it his mission ever since Shelby’s two high school friends create the memorial to tidy up rubbish and remove weeds.
After Stagg’s kindness went viral on TikTok with nearly 330,000 views, and thanks to video racking up numbers, it reached Shelby’s mother, Sherry Smith who got in touch with Stagg and wanted to meet him in person.
Before the meeting, Stagg had a new white wooden cross built for the memorial which includes Shelby’s name in bright pink letters.
On Monday (October 18), Cherry got her wish and was finally able to meet Stagg and greet him with a warm hug, thanking him for keeping her daughter’s memory alive.
“It was overwhelming and I was just so grateful because I had no idea that, you know, anyone had had been doing that,” Sherry Smith told CNN. “I knew I had to meet him because he had to be a very special person, Smith said. “And he is.”
“I just decided I’m not gonna let Shelby’s death in this intersection be forgotten,” Stagg said to the same publication.
“I just started picking up trash, keeping the grass and weeds from encroaching around the cross and the little angel figurines and rocks they had put there at the base and just tried to keep it as presentable as I could.”
It all began in August when his kind gesture was recently spotted by a passerby, TikToker Kaleb Hall (@kalebhall00) who filmed Stagg cleaning up. Hall then stopped his car at a nearby gas station to take a closer look and found that Stagg was cleaning up Shelby’s memorial.
👮🏻♀️Police officers reason for picking up trash is amazing!!! 🤯🙏🏻💯#CODAduets #fypシ #goodcop ‼️PLEASE SHARE ‼️
The TikToker asks Stagg what he is doing and the police officer explains that Shelby was killed at an intersection close by and that the memorial is part of his patrol area.
“I didn’t know her but I remember the incident,” said Stagg who has been with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for 34 years.
He guesses that the family has moved away - which is correct as Sherry and her family moved away 12 years ago and currently reside in Texas. Due to the pandemic, it has been more difficult to make the journey to visit the memorial site.
Stagged added: “... I just wanna make sure it stays kept up, someone needs to look after her memorial there.”
In response, Hall told Stagg that he appreciates what he’s doing and wished him well.
One person wrote: “It’s so nice to see officers doing things like this for our city. Indy needs more cops like him.”
“Good man right there!” Another person said.
Someone else replied: “What an amazing man! Much respect to him!”
“I wish all cops had a heart like this,” a fourth person commented.
Stagg described how caring for Shelby’s memorial is “part of the job” that all officers do.
“I believe this strongly that this is part of the job,” Stagg said. “When we can try to do something to make things a little bit better as a result of a tragedy, that’s what we do.”