A legal group that advocates for atheists, agnostics, and nontheists are calling for an investigation into an Alabama teacher after she incorporated a coloring book picture of Jesus accompanied by a Scripture passage into a lesson plan. Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization that advocates for a strict separation of church and state, […]
Earlier this year, a powerful scene unfolded: a North Carolina trooper pulled a driver over for speeding. Instead of giving them a ticket, the officer prayed with a man fighting cancer. A photo of the encounter has since gone viral, showing North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Jaret Doty leaning into a car as he and Anthony “Tony” Geddis, who was battling colon cancer, closed their eyes to pray together.
Ashlye Wilkerson, Geddis’ 39-year-old daughter, and the car’s driver captured the heartwarming interaction. The image spread throughout social media after Geddis died on May 22nd and his daughter posted the photo along with a tribute to her dad on social media. She told CNN, “It was a really beautiful moment for me to see this take place between my dad and the officer.” Doty’s and Geddis’ paths came together on March 28th as Wilkerson drove her father home to South Carolina after receiving 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, fatigued from treatment and barely able to speak, defended his daughter and told the cop she was driving him home from chemo. Doty took Wilkerson’s license and registration back to his car.
This was 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 approached the car and hearing that Geddis had cancer brought Doty back to his 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 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. 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.
Doty told CNN that this was the first time he’s ever verbally requested and prayed for somebody out loud on the interstate. The Wilkerson family is grateful as well. Ashlye says the cop could’ve acted differently, but he chose compassion and faith after pulling her over.