PLEASANT GROVE — A special car found in Utah is on its way to Texas, not for hurricane relief, but for a surprise birthday present.
Army 1st Lt. Jonathan Rozier, of Texas, was killed in the line of duty in 2003. He left behind his wife, Jessica, and baby son, Justin, as well as his 1999 Toyota Celica GT, which his wife sold to make ends meet.
Now, Justin is old enough to drive, and his mother decided to see if she could track down that old car for her son.
Jessica Rozier was able to track the car to Pleasant Grove and posted a picture of it on the city's Facebook page, hoping someone might know something about it.
Kyle Fox saw the post last month and shared it with his friends. Since Fox is also the man behind the Follow the Flag group, which put a large American flag across Grove Creek Canyon this past July 4, he has many followers on social media. One of them saw Fox's post and later noticed the car outside Jorge Cruz’s Pleasant Grove home.
Cruz, who had been looking for a GT convertible model for years, bought the car five months ago in Ogden after seeing it listed on a used car website.
"That was my dream car as a teenager,” Cruz said last month. “I wanted it as a project. My wife told me not to buy it because I didn’t need it, but I had to get it.”
Normally, Cruz parks the car in his garage, but one day two months ago, he parked it along the side of the road. That happened to be the same day someone drove by and recognized it from Fox’s Facebook post.
"I didn't have any idea,” Cruz said. “Nothing at all.”
Fox contacted Cruz and showed him the Facebook post. He told Cruz the story about the soldier and his son, and Cruz, as much as he loved the car, decided to sell it.
"I believe nothing happens for just chance. Something has a purpose in life, and if you can make somebody happy, do it,” said Cruz. “It’s bittersweet for me, but that’s a good feeling somebody is going to be happy out of this.”
They fixed the car up by putting in new upholstery, paint, tires, a stereo system and glass with the help of donations from several businesses and strangers. Wednesday night they headed to San Antonio to surprise Justin Rozier for his birthday.1 comment on this story
"It is, I've found over the last few years, I've really fallen in love and become addicted to serving," Fox said Wednesday. "There's something I guess I can be selfish about it. I do love the feeling of giving back, and I love seeing people being on the other end of that, so it just something that's grown inside of me, and I hope it can do the same for everybody else."
"He (Justin) likely only knows his father through stories from family and photos on the wall,” said Fox.
"I'm a pretty soft-hearted guy, so I'm looking forward to seeing the smiles and the faces," Fox said. "They don't know what's coming."