SACRAMENTO – The day before her wedding, Amanda Rabe found out her father would not be able to make it.
Rabe told KTXL her dad still suffers from a spinal cord and brain injury after he was shot in the line of duty several years ago. To this day he experiences severe migraines, which cause him to pass out.
“It’s normal for him. We’re very used to it, TSA wasn’t,” Rabe said in a video chat with KTXL while on her honeymoon in Moab, Utah.
The Transportation Security Administration wouldn’t allow him to fly from their home in Idaho to California for the most important day of his daughter’s life – her wedding day.
A tight-knit law enforcement circle immediately got to work and put out a BOLO for a stand-in for the bride’s father.
“Her magic day they planned for her father to be there. It was years in the making and they were saying in the last minute he couldn’t make it and they needed somebody to stand in for him,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Jake Steel.
An hour before her wedding, Rabe got a phone call from her mother.
“‘Hey, I pulled some strings,'” Rabe recalled her mother saying. “‘I was able to get a hold of some people and they found some people.’ And so she was like, ‘You actually have a chippie walking you down the aisle and your dad is so happy that somebody there can do that for him.”
Rabe and stand-in dad Steel met at a riverside winery minutes before the ceremony.
“A very proud moment,” Steel told KTXL. “Just knowing I’m there to help somebody out at their magic moment in time.”
“He showed up with his two beautiful children. So that was pretty amazing,” Rabe said.
To top off an already incredible day, Steel even stepped in for the father-daughter dance.
“There were tears the minute it started,” he recalled.
Rabe’s sister had prepared the special song, “Stand By Me,” for that tender moment.
“So that was very special to me,” Rabe said.
When Steel was a teenager he lost his father, a CHP sergeant, to a head-on collision caused by a wrong-way driver.
“He also knows exactly how that feels to have his dad miss his special moments,” Rabe said.
“I was immersed in Amanda’s life for a small moment, yet it seemed like an eternity,” Steel said.
They said the wedding day has bonded them for life.
“It was absolutely like being taken into the family,” Steel said. “So it made me feel great for what I did.”
“It was wonderful to have him there,” Rabe said. “I don’t think words can ever describe having somebody just completely wrap you in their love and share that moment with you.”