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Unlikely friends: Former felon and deputy reunite years after devastating accident

A now-viral photo of John Sanchez and Fort Bend County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Bulman is giving everyone an extra reason to hope.

HOUSTON — After a night of drinking at Z Bar in Richmond in 2018, John Sanchez didn't know his life was about to change down Crabb River Road.

"I got hit from behind," said Sanchez.

"We got a call (that) somebody's been run down on Crabb River Road," said Fort Bend County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Bulman.

Bulman raced to the scene, not knowing exactly what -- or who -- he'd find.

"We (found) John laying in the road and he's pretty well broken," Bulman said.

"I don't remember the impact of the hit, but when I woke up, I woke up to (Deputy) Bulman," said Sanchez.

Past history

It wasn't their first encounter.

"He wasn't a new face," Bulman said. "I've run into John a couple times -- sometimes good."

Other times not so good. 

"Bulman has a reputation of being a hardass," Sanchez said.

Sanchez wasn't a stranger to law enforcement. Bulman had arrested Sanchez before, but on that night in 2018, as he lay on the ground badly injured and clinging to life, their relationship changed.

"He's not a criminal, he's a victim," Bulman said. "And we have to do everything we can for him to try and comfort him."

"He showed me empathy and sympathy," Sanchez said. "He just kept talking to me, telling me, 'You're going to make it, you're going to make it.' I didn't think I was going to make it."

Eventually, things went black. Sanchez survived and woke up in the Medical Center to begin a long road to recovery.

"It made me appreciate life more," Sanchez said.

Chance encounter

A few weeks later, Bulman would make a recovery of his own after being shot while responding to a domestic violence call.

"This is a hard job," Bulman said.

Fate wasn't done yet though. Nearly two years later, at a Buc-ees just one block from where Sanchez nearly died, there was a chance reunion:

"I see a lawman walking to the door, and I'm like, 'I know that walk,'" Sanchez said. "I'm not going to lie, I got a little teary-eyed."

It was then that Sanchez got the chance to tell Bulman thank you.

"Believe it or not, that's a big boost for police officers just to hear thank you," Bulman said.

"It'd been a long time since I'd seen him, and seeing him again, it was good to shake his hand," Sanchez said. "I hugged him and said, 'Let me get (one) for the books,' and I took a picture."

New friends

Now their photo has more than 500 shares and thousands of likes. It's changing hearts and minds. 

"I used to have such a nasty outlook on cops," Sanchez said. "I hated them and despised them. But now I realize they wake up every day and put their uniform on to protect us knuckleheads causing confusion. There's already enough chaos in the world."

"We're here to help," Bulman said. "The majority of us are here to do everything we can to help."

They're an odd couple: Two unlikely friends who come from two completely different worlds, but who are giving us all a little more reason to hope.

"He was there," Sanchez said. "He was there for me."


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