Chad Farley has been driving for Uber for about a year and, on Monday night, the 41-year-old had a passenger he likely won't forget.
Farley posted about the “very disturbing” experience on Facebook and explained that he picked the passenger, a man in his mid 20s, from his house. The passenger began to open up, telling the driver that he'd been diagnosed with a certain type of brain cancer and the new procedure his doctor proposed had a low chance of success.
In return, the 41-year-old shared that his own mother passed away from cancer, and the two spent a little time discussing the disease.
“We talked for a little bit and I gave him my testimony of how I got saved as young boy,” he wrote. “How I strayed from the Lord later in life and how He brought me back to Himself through my mother's death.”
As the two engaged in conversation, Farley noticed something was off about his passenger's destination — it was “dead smack” at the center of Skyway Bridge, also known as Florida's top suicide spot.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that the St. Petersburg bridge has no walkway for pedestrians and there isn't even a place to really “step safely” on the bridge that's 200 feet above water.
Farley quickly put two and two together and asked his passenger where he was going with such an odd destination.
“He gave me the weirdest story that was not even close to being believable (sic)," he wrote in the post. "He said that the ambulance wouldn't take him all the way to Tampa and that his doctor told him to get to the top of the Skyway Bridge, pull over where the phones are and call [Florida Highway Patrol] and they would send an ambulance for him to bring him to his doctor.”
When the pair reached a toll booth, he had his passenger repeat the “strange” story to the attendee and later to the supervisor, who explained an ambulance can't pick him up on the bridge but there was a rest stop nearby, where he could use a phone.
Farley drove the passenger to the rest area and, although he said he had no plans of jumping off the bridge, the driver knew he was lying.
“I told him how much God, the giver of life loves him and he has no right to take his own life because it was bought at a high price,” Farley explained in the post. “I grabbed his hand which was shaking so badly and prayed for a few minutes with him and he actually began praying once I was done.”
As the passenger got out of the car he said he felt better and that he was just going to sit on a bench by the water and think. Still, Farley had “zero doubts” about his intentions and asked if he could take a photo of the two of them on the pretense of remembering his passenger. Instead, he called 911 and emailed the photo so police officers could identify the suicidal man.
When officers arrived, the man walked into the water and submerged himself, but Farley was later notified that they rescued him. The Tampa Bay Times reported he was taken to the hospital, where he was labeled to be in critical but stable condition.
Farley wrote, “God put that man in my car tonight for a reason,” and asked for people to pray for him.
The Uber driver is also a leader at Community Bible Baptist Church and told the Tampa Bay Times that he treats his driving as part of his ministry.
“Riders open up to you about a lot of things you wouldn't expect them to tell strangers,” he said. “I keep my church business card in the car. If someone is hurting, I give it to them.”
Sgt. Steve Gaskins, spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol, commended the troopers who responded and praised Farley for reaching out to those who are “trained” to deal with people in these situations.