As police continue investigating the murder of a local cab driver, a friend and customer of that driver said he's lost the man he considered a “lifeline.”
Edward VanVoorhis of Atlantic Beach can't drive for medical reasons and takes a cab to work at Publix each day.
Gators City Taxi cabbie Stuart Carson was his regular driver, and the two become close friends. They had a friendly arrangement and VanVoorhis said sometimes he would pay the father of four with food from Publix.
“A lot of times he was just trying to put food on the table for his kids,” said VanVoorhis (pictured below). “Sometimes I'd pull up and he'd say, 'Just go in there and get me a couple Publix boxes of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.' We've been tight ever since.”
VanVoorhis said Carson, 43, knew he had grandchildren in town, and he would call every day to ask if VanVoorhis needed anything.
On Monday, the usual call didn't come, and VanVoorhis said he knew something was wrong. He found another ride to work, and then later he saw his friend's photo in the paper – and found out he'd been murdered.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said Carson was shot and killed inside his cab well after midnight on West 27th Street in the Brentwood area. He was found Saturday morning.
VanVoorhis said Carson called him just hours before he was killed to see if he'd be needing a ride to work.
“It still seems like a nightmare to me,” VanVoorhis said. “He was a super guy, do anything in the world for you. He was like my lifeline, not just a cab guy.”
Now VanVoorhis wants to pay his respects at a candlelight vigil Friday night near the murder scene on the Northside, but without Carson, he's not sure how he'll get there.
“If I call a regular cab to get there and back, it would probably cost me over a hundred dollars,” VanVoorhis said.
A woman called Channel 4 after VanVoorhis' story aired and volunteered to give him a ride to the vigil.
Gator City Taxi has offered a free cab ride to VanVoorhis for Carson's funeral service on Monday.
Police are continuing to search for Carson's killer or killers but so far have no suspects.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
To help Carson's family with funeral expenses, go to GoFundMe.com.