He ran out of gas on the way to his son’s graduation. Then a deputy drove by and gave him a ride.

Paul Canales was five miles away with half an hour to spare before graduation. Then Deputy Sheriff Richard Mhartain drove by the right place at the right time.

BANDERA COUNTY, Texas — A father in Bandera County is counting his blessings.

Exactly one week ago, he wasn’t sure if he’d make it to his son’s graduation.

He ran out of gas five miles down the road with half an hour to spare.

He didn’t know what to do and time was running out. That’s until a deputy drove by the right place at the right time.

“Benjamin is not my biological son. He is from a previous relationship…I met Benjamin when he was 6 years old. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in his life thanks to his mother,” said Paul Canales. “[I’m] happy, blessed that I was able to make his graduation and see him cross the stage.”

Although Canales is technically no longer a step-father, he says he’s maintained a wonderful relationship with Benjamin and still considers him a son. Missing Ben’s graduation — a once-in-a-lifetime moment — would have left Canales with a broken heart.

May 24, Canales had a day so busy, he didn’t realize his truck was running on fumes.

Highway 16 at Privilege Creek was the closest he could get to Bandera High School where his son would graduate in half an hour. The vehicle ran out of gas.

He was five miles from the school and the nearest gas station.

“I pulled over, said a prayer, and as soon as I said, ‘Amen’, I looked up and I saw the sheriff coming,” recalled Canales. “I flashed [my lights] at him, he flashed me right back. I knew that was God’s little angel He sent to help me.”

Stopping to help him on the side of the road was Deputy Sheriff Richard Dean Mhartain of the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office.

“He said, ‘If I could just get there, I can have family help me get back on the road again, but I don’t want to miss this graduation,'” said Mhartain. “I said, ‘Well, jump in and let’s go!'”

They took the 7-minute drive down Highway 16.

“This was the most pleasant experience in the back of a police car,” said Canales, jokingly.

Canales was dropped off at the high school with plenty of time to spare. He says he was even the first person to congratulate Ben on the field after the ceremony.

It was an experience so memorable, Canales posted about Mhartain’s good deed on Facebook.

The tassle is worth the hassle for this Dad! A Bandera County Deputy gave this Dad, Paul Canales a courtesy ride to…

Posted by Bandera County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Mhartain says he was notified about the post from his boss. 

“When [deputies] started hearing about this, everybody’s like, ‘That’s what we do!'” said Mhartain with a smile. “You do things because that’s just the right thing to do.”

Mhartain says, because Canales left tools in the back of his truck, he even checked on the vehicle to make sure the tools were still there. He was happy to be part of helping a proud father witness his son’s high school graduation.

“He’s really the centerpiece of this story because he’s raised a good child. He got him through school and wanted to be there to celebrate as much as anybody. This is an accomplishment for him, too,” said Mhartain about Canales. “Each day I pray I have the opportunity to do something that glorifies God and makes doing this well worth it.”

Canales says Benjamin will join the military. He was recruited by the Navy and committed to their nuclear engineering program.

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