Ashlye V. Wilkerson, 39, was driving through Rowan County, North Carolina after picking up her father, Anthony “Tony” Geddis from the hospital when they were pulled over. Instead of the tragic ending we’d expect from a scenario like this, the state trooper conducting the traffic stop turned out to be a great comfort to this family.
In March, North Carolina State Trooper Jaret Doty pulled Wilkerson over for speeding, according to Wilkerson’s account. Doty approached the vehicle on the passenger side where Mr. Geddis was sitting. Geddis, weak from his chemotherapy treatment, conjured up the energy to address the officer. “This is my baby girl. She’s driving me home from a chemo treatment at the cancer center at Duke,” Geddis said.
Doty noticed Geddis was slouched in his seat, with a pouch attached to his pelvis: a pouch similar to the one he had worn when he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Doty asked Geddis what kind of cancer he had. He told him he had colon cancer.
Then, Doty asked if he could pray for him.
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Geddis raised his right hand and grasped Doty’s. Both men bowed their heads.
Wilkerson was so touched by what she was seeing that she took out her smartphone and quietly snapped a picture.
After Doty finished praying, he pressed something in Geddis’ hand. “I just want you to know that you have someone else praying for you on your journey,” the trooper told him.
Doty straightened up from the car window and bid farewell to Wilkerson and her father. Instead of giving Wilkerson a speeding ticket, he let her go with a warning. “Y’all drive safely,” he said.
Doty told CNN that while he was recovering from surgery, he thought of all the people praying for his recovery and vowed to help others get through their illness. What he gave to Geddis was a small silver cross.
As Wilkerson drove off, Geddis’ eyes began to fill with tears. The anxiety of what could have been was now replaced with relief and gratitude. The moment stuck with Wilkerson for the next two months, then her father passed away. Wilkerson shared the photo of the highway encounter in her online tributes to Mr. Geddis. Though she did not remember Doty’s name, the story still found its way back to him.
“This was the first and only time that I ever verbally requested and prayed for somebody out loud on the interstate,” Doty said via CNN. “I can’t describe the odds of stopping her, because there’s hundreds of thousands of cars that travel through (Interstate) 85 every week.”