NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A frightened child, and the hero cop she couldn’t forget had an amazing reunion twenty years in the making.
“It started from a memory, a memory from my childhood,” Officer Sally Zheng said, “I wasn’t in a good situation, but he’s there with me.”
“He” is officer Ralph Torres. The circumstance of their original meeting is still a painful memory for Zheng.
“He calmed me down, and he said, ‘as long as he’s there, no one is going to hurt me,” she recalled, “For someone who went through many years of abuse, it was the first time I felt safe.”
Torres was there to remove 14-year-old Zheng from her abusive parents.
“She was scared, a scared little girl, and I felt that I had to do something at the time,” Torres said.
Torres left Zheng his phone number, a small gesture that proved to be life changing.
“I started research right after I settled myself into foster care,” Zheng said.
But the number was lost. Zheng tried for yeas to locate him, eventually even becoming a police officer herself to make it easier to find him.
She even wrote Torres a letter telling him that it was her dream to meet him again, and at May during a roll call that’s exactly what happened.
“Remember Ralph Torres, you want to meet him,” Commissioner James O’Neill said.
And with that, 20 years of searching came to an end.
“As soon as I got on the job I was out there, I was asking anyone, cops with the same last name, Officer Torres, can you help me? I have a story,” she said.
It was an important moment for Torres too.
“I just gained another daughter,” he said.
Torres said he won’t miss another milestone for the young girl he once rescued. She said because of him she’s proudly serving at the transit bureau in Brooklyn.
“My hero,” she called him.
With her hero back in her life, Officer Zheng can now put years of searching behind her.
“I thought maybe in the back of his head, how is that little girl doing, so I want to tell him I’m doing very well. I want to stand in front of him and say I am doing so well, are you proud of me?” she said.
“Very much so,” he said.
Zheng said she wanted to be an inspiration to other foster kids, and to let them know that there’s always hope out there, and if she can do it, they can too.