NewsNational News


New Jersey Transit police went above and beyond to reunite a homeless man with his daughters

Posted at 7:58 AM, Aug 22, 2019

Two New Jersey transit officers went above and beyond the call of duty to help reunite a family.

Jose Lopez left Long Branch, New Jersey, for Florida, and lost everything — his home, his job and communication with his loved ones.

He returned to New Jersey looking for his daughters.

He was down on his luck until a chance encounter with a NJ Transit police officer.

"When I asked him, 'where are you headed?' he said Long Branch and I said, 'what's out there?' and he said it was his family," Officer Joshua Robles with NJ Transit police told News 12 New Jersey. "And so I said if you have their information I can contact them for you and he said he didn't have their information."

Robles turned to crisis outreach Officer Sean Pfeifer who got to work looking for Lopez's family — he hadn't seen them in 24 years.

"As a father, and as a son myself, I wanted to make sure I did everything I possibly could to find to Mr. Lopez's family," Pfeifer said.

Pfeifer took it upon himself to cold call dozens of people in New Jersey, leaving voicemail messages and looking for Lopez's daughters. Finally he found them.

"So I called my sister and I was like, 'something weird is happening, I got a call from NJ Transit police talking about dad' and she said, 'wait I got the same number,' " Angela Viviani said.

With everyone on board, it was time to bring them together. Pfeifer then arranged for Lopez to get a hair cut, a shave and new clothes.

It was an emotional reunion.

"As soon as Officer Pfeifer walked him in, it was just immediate. I saw his face, I remember the eyes" Kristie Viviani said.

Kristie was 17 and Angela only 10 the last time they saw their father. The moment was raw.

"For me it was ... I was that little girl," Angela said.

Together again, Lopez embraced his daughters and met his grandchildren for the first time.

The New Jersey family, whole again.

"I'm thinking I'm in heaven," Lopez said, "I have my two best girls, I got good friends."

Lopez is now working with a program through the mental health association of Essex and Morris County to find permanent housing.

Watch the emotional reunion below: