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Officer befriends German couple on honeymoon
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Newlyweds from Stuttgart, Germany, Daniel and Priscella Heger, were hosted on the roadside by Manteca motorcycle officer John Machado after an intersection crash Tuesday afternoon as they were passing through on their way to Yosemite National Park. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Passing this way but once, a honeymooning German couple was befriended by Manteca motorcycle officer John Machado after an intersection fender bender at Yosemite and Lincoln avenues Tuesday afternoon.

Daniel and Priscella Heger were on their way to Yosemite National Park after landing in Los Angeles, driving to San Francisco where they spent three days, and then headed east only to meet another car at Lincoln Avenue disabling their vehicle.

I was driving down Yosemite Avenue about 3:30 p.m. and stopped just to see what was going on with the motor officer stopped along the curb next to the damaged car.  
Officer Machado went out of his way to be of service to the Germans who had come to the United States for the first time – a honeymoon gift from their June 20 wedding in a small town near Stuttgart.   It was a wedding ceremony with 100 guests – sizeable for German standards.

They said they flew over the country from the Carolinas to the West Coast awed by so much open land they could see from the sky.  They said from Germany it takes only 45 minutes to fly from the southern border to the northern coast line.

The motor officer made contact with Hertz car rental and got things moving to get them a second car and a tow truck to pick up their damaged vehicle.  Machado even made it a point to stay with them until the Hertz driver arrived on the scene – more than he had to do for them.  He was obviously eager to see they were safe in this strange country and to get them on their way.

The two of them stood talking with me and the officer on the sidewalk in the 200 block of East Yosemite saying their weather at home was much like they found it yesterday in San Francisco – but in Germany it would be raining now, they said.  Standing on the sidewalk on Yosemite they were visibly sweating saying they did not expect it to be so warm after leaving the Bay Area.

Daniel is a manager with a software firm in his hometown and Priscella is an “animal nurse,” she explained, at a veterinary hospital near Stuttgart.  She gently struggled with the language while her husband was very proficient – a sweet young woman with such a happy smile.

And for the other side of the story I did not immediately realize – or process what I was hearing – when they told me they lived in a smaller town outside Stuttgart – a place named Herrenberg.  Wow, It was Herrenberg where my maternal grandmother Rosina Katrina Aichele was born about 1868.  She came to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century with her two sisters Marie and Magadelena.  

It was the highpoint in my week to meet this sweet couple – very much in love – and get a chance to chat with them for a few minutes.  It was only by chance that this all came together after they had stopped at Wendy’s for lunch and drove into town to check out the community.

Had they not had the accident neither John Machado nor I would have had the opportunity not to cross paths with this very exceptional young couple who chose to visit the U.S. and got derailed briefly in Manteca.   Good that Machado was still on the job as a motorcycle traffic officer – but not for long – he will soon have to park that Harley for a patrol car due to the economy.

Now I’ll send a copy of today’s paper off to their home in Herrenberg and hopefully I can learn more about their community and maybe more of my grandmother’s heritage.