Something ridiculously unnerving was brought to my attention by a GNA listener who called into the morning show on Friday.  After spending over an hour discussing the potentially tragic news of the Albany man missing at Thacher Park since New Years Eve, I came to the conclusion that as an Uber driver, I feel it is your responsibility as a human to be wary of individuals like Zachary Barrantes.

At the time of our discussion on-air, it was not known that the 25-year-old would be pulled up from the 300 foot cliff, miraculously alive.  We had not yet learned that Barrantes, who suffers from mental illness was driven to the closed, cold, dark, dangerous park late in the evening on Tuesday to commit suicide.  Thankfully, he was unsuccessful.  NYSP, medics, park rangers and sheriffs miraculously located the young man, alive, wearing sweatpants, a relatively warm coat and t-shirt, hundreds of feet down from the overlook and after 4 hours of painstaking work, they lifted him up and brought him to safety.  The Thacher Park overlook has all too often taken the lives of onlookers, reckless drunks, and those wishing to end their life.  When visited responsibly, Thacher Park is as beautiful and awe inspiring as it is savage and menacing.

I heard on multiple occasions Friday morning that 'hindsight is always 20/20' and that the Uber driver who brought this man here may not have thought anything strange about Barrantes' request.  With all due respect, that's bullshit.  Would you drive your friend, colleague or loved one to a closed, pitch black, dangerously rugged location around midnight?  You absolutely would not.

The argument that the Uber driver was only doing his or her job is a fair take, but instinctively, unless this driver was a robot, how could your gut not tell you that something about this drop off wasn't right?  What if the Uber driver simply made a call to police and explained that something about the passengers request was odd.  Would that have been too much to ask?  I posed all of these thoughts, questions, and observations on-air and I wouldn't take a single one of them back.

Then a call came in from a woman who surmised that perhaps the driver of the car was worried about getting a 'ding' to their rating.  Apparently, if you call in a suspicious passenger and it turns out your claim is false or unwarranted, it could result in a lower Uber driver rating, lessening your shot at a prized customer pick up in the future.  That isn't necessarily what happened here, but the warning signs were there and this driver chose to ignore them for whatever reason.

I'm not suggesting that criminal charges should be brought up against the driver who came within a pine needle or two from driving Barrantes to his death, but I'm suggesting something else.  Be a better human.  Trust your freaking gut.  Know that something was inherently wrong about about this particular customers request and then do something about it.  I can assure you the sheriffs, state police and park rangers would much rather locate a man wandering without purpose on the trails of the park, rather than one they believe might be dead at the bottom of an overlook.

I guess it was just so busy on New Years Eve, the driver had to get to the next customer.  Wouldn't want to be late and get a bad review, now would you?

It's a miracle that Zachary Barrantes is alive after three nights out in the cold following a plunge that few have ever survived. I'm thankful for him, his family and the driver who drove him to the park.

But next time, choose human rating over Uber driver rating.

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