Quick-Thinking Uber Driver Calls 911 and Saves Suicidal Passenger in Florida
An Uber driver is being hailed a hero after he called authorities to come to the aid of a passenger he believed was about to commit suicide.
Chad Farley, 41, picked up a 28-year-old male passenger from his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, around 8 p.m. on Aug. 7. As he notes in an account of the night on his Facebook page, Farley soon noticed something was different about this passenger than any other he had picked up in his year as an Uber driver.
As they made small talk, the man told Farley that he had recently been diagnosed with brain cancer, which prompted Farley to open up about his mother’s battle with cancer. But Farley then noticed that the destination his passenger requested was one he had never seen before—it was right in the middle of the Skyway Bridge, crossing over Tampa Bay.
Things truly became strange when Farley asked the passenger why he was headed there.
The passenger told Farley that he was going to the middle of the bridge to use one of the emergency phones to call an ambulance to take him to his doctor in Tampa. The unbelievable response led Farley to believe that his passenger was planning to jump from the bridge.
As they drew closer to Skyway, Farley asked a toll taker to talk to the passenger about using the phones at the top of the bridge. While they spoke, Farley gave the toll taker “eye signals” to alert them that something was wrong. He pulled over before they reached the middle of the bridge.
“I took him to the Skyway rest area and talked with him and he assured me that he wasn’t going to jump,” Farley said. “I could tell he was lying.”
Farley turned to his faith to convince the man not to jump.
“I told him how much God, the giver of life loves him …,” Farley wrote. “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.”
Before he dropped the man off, Farley took a selfie with him under the guise that he wanted to remember what he looked like. In truth, Farley wanted a photo he could send to police once he called 911. Officers showed up a short time later at 8:30 p.m. after they received Farley’s call and an email with the picture.
“Despite pleas from the troopers to return, the man continued into the water and submerged himself,” reads a statement from the Florida Highway Patrol given to PEOPLE. “Both Corporal Robert Friesen and Trooper Kristen Middleton then entered the water after him in the dark. After several minutes, the troopers located the man, recovered him and brought him to shore at which point they began CPR until relieved by EMS crews. Transported to Bayfront, the man received advanced medical care and is now listed in critical, but stable condition.”
Uber praised Farley’s ability to recognize his passenger was in danger and effectively react to the situation.
“We deeply appreciate Mr. Farley’s quick thinking and compassion for his rider, as well as law enforcement’s fast response,” an Uber spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
And yet, Farley believes there was a greater power at work that night.
“God put that man in my car tonight for a reason,” Farley wrote at the end of his post. “I’m just glad he is still alive.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).