The 20-year-old son of a Sheriff's Deputy in Weld County, Colorado, has held on to several possessions belonging to his dad, Deputy Sam Brownlee, since he was killed in the line of duty after a police chase in 2010.
But there was one last memory of their dad that Tanner and his brother, Chase, wanted to preserve: his Dodge Charger squad vehicle, which the Weld County Sheriff's Office auctioned off this week in order to raise money for C.O.P.S. -- Concerns of Police Survivors, which provides services for the family members and loved ones of police officers killed in the line of duty, 7 News Denver reports.
"This is kind of the end of Sam's legacy here," Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said. "It's the last tangible thing we have that he was connected to."
Tanner and Chase created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the auction. Their plan was to bid just a little bit higher than anyone else at the auction, in the hopes that they would win the vehicle.
"It'd mean a lot to me and my brother. We've been through a lot," Tanner told 7 News Denver. "If we do get it tonight, I kind of hope my mom will let me drive it around tonight."
Tanner put in the first bid on the night of the auction: $2,500. But others quickly outbid him, and within minutes, the bid had reached $50,000 -- well above the car's Kelly Blue Book value of $12,500.
"I think if it goes past the limit we have, I just have to hope that someone has it in their heart to win the car and give it to me and my brother. We don't really have a backup plan," Tanner said.
And that's just what happened. A local rancher named Steve Wells placed the final bid: $60,000. The second the auctioneer handed Wells the keys, he turned to Brownlee's son.
"Tanner, here's your car," Wells told him, in a moment that was captured on video:
Tanner, who began crying, said he had never met Wells and had no idea he was going to bid so much money on the vehicle and then hand it to him.
"Nope, I shook his hand and I didn't know," Tanner told 7 News Denver, adding that he plans to donate the money raised on GoFundMe to C.O.P.S. "It means so much to me."
Tanner explained why the car was so important to them: "He put time and work into it. He drove it every day, and so to have something like that will be bigger than a lot of things I could have gotten."
Wells is reportedly a rancher who owns thousands of acres of oil-rich land in the county, reports 9 News. He declined to be interviewed.
Photo Credit: YouTube, KUSA