Florida Lyft driver attacked by passenger over plastic partition installed due to COVID-19

Florida Lyft driver attacked by passenger over plastic partition installed due to COVID-19 (CNN Newsource)

A Lyft passenger was arrested over the weekend after Flagler County deputies say he attacked his driver.

Deputies responded to the intersection of Belle Terre Parkway and Royal Palm Parkway early Sunday morning just after midnight after receiving calls about a fight in the street, the sheriff's office said. When deputies arrived, they saw 36-year-old Travis S. Smith on top of another man. After deputies separated them, they interviewed them separately to find out what happened.

Smith, who was visibly drunk, told deputies he, his friend and the friend's 7-year-old child were heading home from Flagler Beach to Rockne Lane when he says the Lyft driver began driving recklessly, according to the sheriff's office. In order to protect himself and his friends, Smith said he grabbed the driver and forced him to pull over, which is when the fight spilled over into the street.

However, the Lyft driver told deputies that Smith attacked him out of nowhere while he was driving them home, the sheriff's office said. He said Smith pulled down the plastic partition that was installed for COVID-19 protection and put him in a chokehold, causing him to lose control of the car.

The two then got out with the car still in drive and began to fight in the street while the driver called for a passerby to call police, according to the sheriff's office. The driver also told deputies that he has a dashboard camera in his car that records the inside of the car, as well as the road.

When deputies looked at the footage, they saw the Lyft driver was the one telling the truth.

“This was a very dangerous situation for not only the people inside the vehicle but for the other motorists on the roadway,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “This drunk attacked an innocent driver and put numerous lives in danger. These rider-share services can quickly become dangerous and drivers should be cautious of who they let in their vehicle. Thankfully the video recording device captured the entire incident and he went to jail.”

The Lyft driver had minor injuries from the fight, including a bruise on the side of his forehead, according to the sheriff's office. Smith was arrested and charged with battery and child abuse, due to putting the 7-year-old life’s in jeopardy during the attack in a moving car.

Smith was booked into the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility and released after posting a $7,500 bond.

Deputies gave the other passenger and his 7-year-old child a courtesy ride to a local hotel.