A Lyft driver in San Jose says she was forcibly grabbed from behind by an aggressive passenger, which led to her swerving dangerously while going 70 miles per hour and pulling off a busy freeway.
ABC 7 has the exclusive story of Portuguese-speaking Lyft driver Zelia Silva, and the passenger she picked up Monday night who was traveling from Campbell to San Jose. Silva says that the passenger account indicated a female customer, and she saw that woman when she arrived, but only a male rider got into her car around 10 p.m. and she began to drive.
Partway into the trip, while speeding down the freeway, the man allegedly grabbed her from behind. Silva says (with her boyfriend translating), "He put his arms [around] my front and my breast. Like a hug, but so strong, so strong."
Silva can be heard screaming on dash-cam video, and you can here the passenger said, "Okay you're not gonna die right now."
The comment came after Silva screamed and began dangerously swerving on the freeway, attempting to move toward the shoulder and stop the car.
Silva says she "couldn't process any words" after hearing the man. After pulling over, she says, "I jumped to exit the car. But he tried to grab me."
Silva then ran into oncoming traffic, ultimately getting another car to stop for her — but this could have ended very badly on a freeway at night. She got in the car and asked to be taken to a nearby gas station, while the driver called 911.
On the video she can be seen trying to flag down a car as traffic rushes past.
"For me is better die in freeway [than] not fight the man," Silva said.
The unidentified passenger who grabbed Silva then reportedly drove off in her car — and it sounds like he was probably intoxicated. Per ABC 7, "He exited into city streets, ran multiple red lights and ultimately crashed against a pole."
It's unclear if the man was taken into custody at that point, or if he faces any charges.
Lyft issued a statement saying, "Safety is fundamental to Lyft, and the incident described is terrifying. We have been in touch with the driver to offer our support, have permanently removed the rider account from the Lyft community, and stand ready to assist law enforcement."
The story is uniquely terrifying, but hardly unique. Since the rideshare era began a decade ago, problems with both female passengers and drivers being assaulted have proliferated across the platforms. Lyft issued a transparency report last year that indicated it had logged 4,000 safety incident between 2017 and 2019 relating to sexual assaults and Lyft rides. But the company issued a statement saying, "99% of trips occurred without any reported safety incident," and "The safety incidents referenced in this report account for 0.0002% of all trips."
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