A California man who received a ride from a local police officer learned that the officer had been killed while on duty two weeks later. The man posted a message on Facebook commemorating him.
Paxton Brewer, 45, of Alameda, California, said he was hitchhiking near Donner Summit after a failed ski trip when California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer Nathan Taylor pulled up in his patrol car, CBS 13 reported.
Brewer said he was wary at first due to a deep misgiving about law enforcement officers.
"[The] CHP cruiser rolled up and I thought 'Here we go, I’m about to get harassed by the cops,'" Brewer wrote in his Facebook post on March 14.
Taylor, however, quickly dispelled Brewer's fears by offering him a ride in his cruiser.
The two reportedly enjoyed a heartwarming conversation full of laughter during the 45-minute ride.
"He told me about his wife and kids, his time working in San Jose, and how he loved working up in the mountains away from the city," Brewer wrote.
The 35-year-old officer dropped Brewer off at a rest stop in Colfax and gave him his personal phone number. He offered to return to the stop when he got off duty later that day and drive Brewer to his destination in Sacramento if he couldn't get another ride by then.
When Brewer later texted Taylor to let him know he had gotten a ride, Taylor replied: "All's well that ends well. Glad you made it."
Brewer said he had been thinking of contacting Taylor to buy him dinner two weeks later, only to learn of the officer's tragic death in the newspaper.
Taylor was struck by an SUV while on duty at the scene of an accident on March 12, according to CBS 13. He died a day later on March 13.
Brewer said he was devastated to hear the news.
"Nathan Taylor was a good man," he wrote in the Facebook post. "He was kind, and giving, and he wanted to help. He challenged my prejudice against the police. He inspired me to be a better man."
The post quickly went viral, garnering over 126,000 likes and 65,000 shares in three days.
Taylor leaves behind a wife and three young children, according to CBS 13.