Lyft Driver Fired After Passenger Forced Onto Freeway, Dies

Eric Lieberman | Tech and Law Reporter

A 23-year-old man who was forced to leave his Lyft ride was killed after being hit on a Los Angeles freeway in late January. Now, investigators are trying to figure out why the passenger was left on a high-pace, usually busy road.

“He was screaming hideously and saying, ‘mom, mom, I have been pepper sprayed,'” the mother of the now-deceased Justin Lavelle told a local NBC affiliate. “He was unrecognizable.”

A friend of Lavelle’s also said he had contacted him, reportedly saying that the Lyft driver was acting “weird.”

The very same friend eventually requested to speak with the driver through Lavelle’s mobile device, who threatened to boot him from the ride because he was allegedly too drunk and endangering both of their lives.

“He hold my steering and I couldn’t move an inch,” said driver Tariq Rasseed, according to NBC4. “I would have died. I didn’t have no choice left.”

Rasseed says that Justin was insistent on him driving faster, even grabbing the steering wheel at multiple points. Rasseed, who has now been suspended from working at Lyft and competitor Uber, admits to dropping him off on the freeway, but says no pepper sprayed was ever involved.

“We are deeply saddened by this incident and our thoughts are with those impacted by this loss,” Scott Coriell, a spokesman for Lyft, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We have been in daily contact with this individual’s family to offer our support and assistance. Given the serious nature of these allegations, we immediately deactivated the driver account. We have proactively reached out to law enforcement and stand ready to assist in their investigation.”

The article has been updated to include Lyft’s statement.

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