LA PUENTE (CBSLA) — A Lyft driver Wednesday credited employees at a La Puente gas station for saving him from a passenger after a ride turned violent.
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“He hit about probably a total of 10 times during this ride,” Tom Lansford, the driver, said.
He said he got the assignment Monday night on the Lyft app to pick up someone named Raul from Whittier Hospital
“There were two orderlies with him,” Lansford said. “It was one of those rides where they say, ‘Only take the person to where we tell you to go, don’t alter from that.'”
But Lansford said the passenger started demanding he be taken to a different location as soon as he got into the car.
“He goes, ‘I’m your worst nightmare, and you’re going to take me where I want to go,'” he said.
When Lansford tried to explain that he couldn’t because the ride was being paid for by someone else, he said things got violent.
“He hit me on my shoulder pretty hard on this shoulder from the backseat,” Lansford said. “I just tell him, ‘Hey, please calm down, I’m just doing my job. I’m 68. Why are you hitting me.'”
The quick-thinking driver then pulled into the Thrifty gas station in La Puente, took out the keys and ran inside. That’s when Lansford said the man kicked open his door and ransacked the car.READ MORE: Possible Lakewood Home Depot Robbery Suspects Arrested in Beverly Hills
“All the stuff, he just threw it,” he said.
Employees at the gas station called 911 and kept the man, who they said appeared unstable, outside. Sheriff’s deputies arrived and began searching for the passenger who had walked off.
But Lansford said his frustration is with the hospital.
“They knew this guy had problems,” he said. “They should have gotten the right type of transportation for him.”
A hospital spokesperson said they have a contract with Lyft and frequently order rides as a courtesy for patients. The spokesperson said the hospital was looking into the incident.
“I really think there should be some kind of accountability where the hospital, instead of just pawning off a guy like this on an unsuspecting driver,” Lansford said. “If I would have been a young woman Lyft driver, it could have a whole lot different.”
And though he was able to clean up his car and fix the door, he said he could not help but think about what could have happened if he had not found a gas station full of employees willing to help.
“I don’t know what he would have done if I would have got to the destination he wanted to go to,” Lansford said.MORE NEWS: Fox, Hield Lead Kings Over Lakers 141-137 In Triple OT
It was not immediately clear who ordered the ride for the passenger, nor was it clear if anyone in the hospital knew that the passenger posed a danger.