Viral video shows Nashville Lyft driver yelling, kicking out passenger along a busy highway

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Posted at 7:50 AM, Sep 16, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — What was supposed to be an average ride home from the Nashville International Airport left one man stranded on the side of a busy highway.

Aaron Swetland, once a ride-share driver himself, said that despite oddities like the incense burning in his Lyft driver's car, the ride started off normal. But trouble began when the driver pulled onto an expressway with the windows down.

"So I attempt to raise the window on the door, and she has it locked out," Swetland said. "First tip that something is kind of whack for me was like, 'Wait, you've taken control away from me to be able to do that?' That seemed kind of odd."

Swetland asked the driver to close the windows because of the pressure on his ears. The driver told him it was a "COVID rule" to keep the windows open.

Lyft's website recommends drivers and passengers "keep windows down when possible."

"So then I ask her if she doesn't mind to just reduce her speed — maybe that would be more pleasant for me if we're going to have to keep the windows down," Swetland said.

That's when things escalated.

"At that point, that's when I turned on my camera," Swetland said.

Swetland's video shows the driver raising her voice at him and appears to show her attempting to knock the phone out of his hand as she pulls to the side of the highway.

"When she tried to grab for my phone and throw it out of the vehicle, that was a scary moment because I'm like, had she succeeded, I lost my only way to communicate," Swetland said.

After pulling over, the driver threw Swetland's suitcase on the side of the highway.

"When she yanked my bag out of the vehicle and then returned to the trunk, I had a brief moment of, 'Well does she have a weapon?'" he said.

Swetland hopes others learn from his experience and never have to endure a similar ride.

"This really can happen to anybody, and you really kind of have to be cautious of your surroundings and just be aware. In this particular instance, for me, it was a change in tone, in attitude. She was very aggressive for no reason at all," Swetland said. "Just be safe and watch out for yourself. Nobody else is doing it, so you have to do it for yourself."

"Safety is fundamental to Lyft, and the incident shown in the video is concerning," Lyft said in a statement. "We have reached out to the rider to offer our support and have suspended the driver's account pending a complete investigation."

This story was originally published by Olivia Michael on Scripps station WTVF in Nashville.