TOMS RIVER, New Jersey- Just days before Patrolman Brett Hansen was involved in an off-duty  crash that eventually claimed his life, a father snapped a quick picture of his daughter and the officer. The man said the pair went to Al’s pizza and saw Hansen sitting alone. “The little girl walked up to Brett to say hello and they chatted for about ten minutes, all along smiling and enjoying the conversation,” police said.

Patrolman Hansen was involved in collision on the Garden State NJ Parkway on January 4th of this year.  The agency says his injuries were so severe that it took teams of surgeons and dedicated medical staff to initially save his life. They say it was “a true miracle”  Hansen survived that tragic night. His family sat by his bedside night and day, as did fellow officers, police say.

Hansen joined the Toms River Police Department in August of 2015. He began his law enforcement career with the Camden County Police Department in March of 2013, after his graduation from the Ocean County Police Academy in May 2012, the department explained.

The agency says Hansen was raised by his parents James and Laurie, along with his younger brother Tyler in Brick, NJ. He and his family are among the most humble and respectful people we’ve ever known. Brett was known to drop whatever he was doing to help others with whatever they needed. He was described as a “true blessing to his family and the neighborhood.” This was clear to anyone who had met Brett and to his coworkers. Above all, it was his dedication and unwavering love to his family that was truly inspiring. Much of Brett’s off duty time was spent with them and his extended family, police say.

The moment captured with the young admirer  is the “kind of police officer and man Brett was, the kind we all strive to be. He will be dearly missed by all, ” the agency added.