After a long-running series of incidents involving Uber drivers injuring, threatening or otherwise harassing their passengers around the world, the ride-sharing service's woes have come to Australia. A Queensland woman was this weekend thrown out of an Uber by an aggressive driver before being run over and subsequently hospitalised.
The passenger's name is Sascha Pangallo. She's a Gold Coast woman who is currently lying in a hospital bed suffering suspected blood clot, possible broken leg, bruising and burns after being allegedly run over by her daily driving service.
According to Sascha, she said that after stepping into the Uber, the driver "refused" to enter her location into his GPS navigation system. She agreed to direct the driver manually while juggling what she described as "an important phone call".
She writes that the driver soon started to "snap" and "scream" in "a very aggressive manner". The driver who she calls "Paul" allegedly tried to physically remove Sascha from the vehicle with onlookers watching the whole scene unfold. Sascha says that when she reached into the back seat to get her bags, the driver "panicked" and sped off, throwing her to the ground before the tyre ran over her leg.
Sascha says this wasn't the first time she had used Uber, instead saying that she was a daily user of the service.
She tells her story via social media:
I'm not one to post these long novel Facebook statuses, but I really feel that this needs/should be made public - and put to the people.
Yesterday afternoon, I ordered an Uber (as I do on the daily.) Little did I know on this particular afternoon I would be stepping into an Uber with a psychotic/mentally unstable driver aka "Paul". After refusing to put my destination into his GPS he requested my directing (which I had no problem with) however I was on an important phone call and during one of the directions he snapped and screamed at me in a very aggressive manner.
He then pulled the car over continued to scream "get out of my car" multiple times whilst getting very physical, grabbing me and trying to drag me out of the car. He soon realised that there were 4 on lookers witnessing the whole thing and yelling that they were calling the police - he then panicked and ran back around to the driver side door, jumped in to his 4WD - and hit the accelerator like an absolute maniac.
My door was still open as I was frantically trying to grab my bags out of the car and before I could get away I was thrown to the ground and my leg was being run over.
This isn't the first time that a passenger has reported a dangerous run-in with an Uber driver. Ride-sharing drivers have allegedly been involved confrontations ranging from physical attacks on passengers through to sexual assaults and other dangerous behaviour in the last few years, while Uber management struggles with issues over privacy and user data protection.
Sascha Pangallo — once a ride-sharing advocate — has said that she'll never be using the service again as a result of the incident.
"UBER.. YEAH THEY'RE CHEAP ~ BUT CAN YOU PUT A PRICE ON YOUR LIFE?" she wrote, adding "for someone who has been 'pro' Uber for so long, I will never use them again. Police are currently trying to shut Uber down as they are unlicensed taxis who claim to do police checks but this cannot be confirmed as there are so many incidents like mine involving their drivers. Some states in Australia have already banned Ubering."
Uber gave us a statement on the altercation:
We have a strict policy to deactivate any partner that exhibits aggressive or abusive behaviour and we have removed this driver from our platform. Safety is our top priority and we will work with the authorities on their investigation. Our thoughts are with the injured woman and we wish her a full and speedy recovery.
Gizmodo understands that the driver had completed a criminal background, driving history and medical check prior to getting behind the wheel as part of the Queensland taxi Driver Authorisation program.
We also understand that the driver has now been removed from the Uber platform while the ride-sharing service works with law enforcement on the investigation.
Regardless of the legal hoops that Uber and the driver at the centre of the incident jumped through, this is going to be a powerful arrow in the Queensland state government's quiver.
Image: Sascha Pangallo