GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - It's not every day a police officer gets a "thank you" note from a person he once had in handcuffs. But that's exactly what happened in March of 2017 to Gastonia Police Officer Jarod Ewers.
That arrest ultimately led to Andrew Michalak being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
Ewers responded to a call for a motor vehicle accident in a parking lot off Franklin Boulevard on January 18 when a minivan had a minor fender-bender with a parked car.
Police say the man driving the van was acting strange and erratic.
"Fearing that he may have a weapon, we pulled him out of his van, put him on the ground and placed him in handcuffs," Ewers said.
Officers thought Michalak was on drugs. Ewers put him in his patrol car and took him to jail.
"As we were pulling up in the jail, he just went from being so out of it to being perfectly normal," Ewers said.
Michalak told the officer he'd been having seizures recently.
Once inside the magistrate's office, Ewers realized Michalak didn't need a jail cell - he needed a doctor.
"I love that man," Michalak said, referring to the officer that arrested him. "If it wasn't for him, I don't know where I'd be right now."
Officer Ewers drove Michalak to the hospital. Two weeks later, doctors determined his seizures were being caused by Stage Four lung cancer that spread to his brain.
Michalak has been receiving treatments for the last year and a half, but it seems his time is fading. He's now on hospice care. But Officer Ewers is by his side once again, now helping to raise money for Michalak's medical bills.
"Inevitably his illness is going to take his life here on earth. He doesn't seem scared about it. The only thing he's worried about is leaving a financial burden for his family," Ewers said.
Ewers has started a GoFundMe page to help his friend. He's also promoting a fundraiser coming up this weekend at Hooter's in Gastonia.
It's one last thing he can do to assure his friend can rest in peace.
If you're interested in donating, you can do that here.
Friends and former co-workers are also hosting a benefit this weekend. On Saturday from 2-6 p.m., Hooter's of Gastonia will hold a car and bike wash to raise money for Michalak's care.