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Clyde Edwards-Helaire, bystander helped teen separated from father after Chiefs rally shooting

Zach Cotten
Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 15, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo — Like many teenagers with a love for football, Zach Cotten went to the Chiefs Kingdom Victory Parade high hopes.

Zach's dad describes the day as a "picture perfect afternoon" for fans to honor the Super Bowl champions .

"There was no real drama in the area," Chris Cotten said. "Everyone was having a good time."

Zach met former Chiefs players and got their autographs, but hoped he would add more from players from this season's Super Bowl champions.

Former Chiefs player
Zach Cotten with former Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.

Cotten said he and his son heard what sounded like fireworks, but didn't think much of it.

"We anticipated being apart for two minutes," Cotten said.

In those two minutes, everything changed.

"He [his dad] went to the bathroom and someone yelled, 'Shooter!' so we're all just running and freaking out," Zach Cotten said.

A bystander helped Zach take cover.

While it wasn't how he expected to meet a Chiefs player, there was Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire at the same spot as Zach.

"He was trying to calm me down, saying everything is going to be okay and not to worry about anything because I would find my dad," Zach said.

In a span of less than 15 minutes, with the help of a bystander and Edwards-Helaire, Zach reunited unharmed with his father.

Zach and Chris Cotten
Zach Cotten with his father, Chris Cotten at the Chiefs Super Bowl parade.

"He saw me and he yelled 'Dad' and it was great," Zach Cotten said.

With high hopes of what should have been a"picture perfect" day, the only picture now is one of the scariest moments in Zach's life, being a big name didn't matter to Edwards-Helaire.

Zach read messages they exchanged after the chaos was over.

"I said thank you for helping me.

"He said, 'All love bro. Tell your dad thanks for staying on the phone and trusting me. Zach, you are a warrior. Always be that way."

Cotten said he will remember how a couple of people wrecked the lives of 23 families. He also will remember the reassurance he received from Edwards-Helaire.

"One thing I'd like to say about Clyde is that you only have a short opportunity to be an athlete and your whole life to be a great human being," Cotten said. "For him to take that time to help my son was exceptional."