A powerful scene unfolded earlier this year, when a North Carolina trooper pulled a driver over for speeding and, rather than dole out a ticket, the cop compassionately prayed with a man battling cancer.
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A photo of the encounter, which has gone viral, shows North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Jaret Doty leaning into the car as both he and Anthony “Tony” Geddis, who had colon cancer, closed their eyes to pray in unison.
The touching interaction was captured by Ashlye V. Wilkerson, Geddis’ 39-year-old daughter, who was driving the car. The image spread across social media after Geddis died May 22 and his daughter subsequently posted the photo and a tribute to her dad on social media.
“It was a really beautiful moment for me to see this take place between my dad and the officer,” Wilkerson told CNN.
The Story Behind the Photo
Doty’s and Geddis’ paths collided March 28, while Wilkerson was driving her father home to South Carolina after he received chemotherapy treatments at Duke University.
Wilkerson realized she was speeding when she saw the officer’s lights coming up behind her, so she pulled over and waited. Little did she know it would be anything but a routine stop.
“Ma’am, do you know what speed you were doing?” Doty said. “I’m going to need your license and registration.”
That’s when Geddis, exhausted from treatment and barely able to speak, quietly defended his daughter and told the cop she was driving him home from chemo.
Doty nodded and took Wilkerson’s license and registration back to his car, CNN reported.
And that’s when things turned quite interesting, as Doty was gone for a long time. The family wondered what was taking so long.
“At that time, I knew there is no way I’m writing this lady a ticket,” Doty told WSOC-TV. “I had to sit in [my car] for a while just to compose myself to figure out what to say when I went back.”
Little did Wilkerson or Geddis know, but Doty, too, had his own health struggles in the past that left him feeling as though he was dying.
The officer had immediately noticed Geddis was in pain when he initially approached the car — and hearing that Geddis had cancer brought Doty back to his own struggles with ulcerative colitis and the removal of part of his colon.
As Doty sat in his patrol car, he made a powerful decision: he would return to the car and pray with Geddis. So, he walked back with an unexpected request for the family.
“Can I pray for you?” Doty asked, to which Geddis agreed and proclaimed, “I absolutely believe in prayer.”
Wilkerson, in a letter written directly to her dad after his death, offered her own take and reflection on the cop’s kind gesture.
“He asked if he could pray with you. You welcomed the prayers with gratitude and informed him that you’re a deacon of your church,” she wrote. “You proudly shared your love for Christ and your belief that God’s will would be done.”
Wilkerson also revealed that Doty gave her dad a “small silver cross” to symbolize his faith. It was one of those small moments in life that is brief and fleeting yet leaves a massive impact.
A Powerful Story of Kindness
The emotional encounter meant a lot to the family. Wilkerson later wrote about it on social media. Though she didn’t have the officer’s name, she publicly thanked him.
After her tribute went viral, Doty, who had no idea the photo was taken, learned about the image, the viral post, and Geddis’ death — and now he’s speaking out.
The cop said he doesn’t want notoriety or attention for the kind moment of prayer and that he often speaks to God about those he encounters in his work.
But Doty said his encounter with Geddis differed from the other prayers he has uttered.
“This was the first and only time that I ever verbally requested and prayed for somebody out loud on the interstate,” Doty told CNN.
And the family is grateful as well. Wilkerson said the cop could have acted quite differently — yet he chose humanity and faith after pulling her over.
“He could have given the ticket, not asked the questions, not connect in a humanly form, but he did,” she told WSOC-TV.
Read the full story here.
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