A concerned Uber driver saved the life of a passenger this week by calling 911 after the young man requested to be dropped in the middle of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in St Petersburg, Florida. About a dozen people end their life or attempt to do so by jumping off the bridge.
Chad Farley, 41, said he was working on Monday (7 August) night when he picked up a young man in his twenties who told him he had been diagnosed with brain cancer in the past month. Farley chatted with the man, who has not been identified, and spoke to him about his own mother's fatal battle with cancer.
"I asked him if he was in school and he told me all about what he wanted to be," Farley wrote in a Facebook post describing the "very disturbing Uber experience".
"I noticed that the destination for this passenger was dead smack at the center of the Skyway Bridge so I asked him where he was going. He gave me the weirdest story that was not even close to being believable."
The 28-year-old passenger told him that his doctor said an ambulance would not take him all the way to Tampa from his location. Instead, the man claimed his doctor told him to go the top of the Skyway Bridge and use the emergency phones to call the ambulance.
The man assured Farley that he would not jump, but the Uber driver said he knew the man was lying.
After taking him to Skyway's North Pier parking area, Farley prayed with him.
"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," Farley said. "He felt much better after we prayed and was a little more calm. He said he wasn't going to do anything to hurt himself and will sit on the bench by the water and think for a while."
He also took a selfie to "remember him" by that he later gave to the police.
"He was getting out, but before he did, I told him how much God loves him," Farley told the Tampa Bay Times. "I just held out my hand, and when he gave me his hand it was shaking like an uneven wheel on a car going down the highway, it was shaking so badly."
After dropping the passenger off further from the bridge, Farley called the police and sent them the picture.
"I called 911 because this guy was definitely suicidal and his goal was for sure to jump off the Skyway Bridge if he was able to get up there. I had zero doubts about his intentions," he said.
State troopers responded to a rest area near the bridge and found the man on a fishing pier. As they talked to him, he fled into the dark Gulf water and submerged himself. The troopers entered the water and found the man, unconscious, after several minutes.
He was taken to shore and given CPR until medical responders arrived, officials said. The man is in critical but stable condition at Bayfront Medical Center.
Sergeant Steve Gaskins, spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol, said the two troopers "did an outstanding job" and praised Farley for immediately reaching out to authorities.
"We're the ones trained to deal with people in these kinds of situations," Gaskins said.
Uber said in a statement: "We deeply appreciate Mr. Farley's quick thinking and compassion for his rider as well as law enforcement's fast response."
"That was definitely my last passenger for the night," Farley said. "God put that man in my car tonight for a reason. I'm just glad he is still alive."
He said he plans to visit the passenger in the hospital.