Uber driver battles with passenger for steering wheel
As a passenger in his car tried to take control of the steering wheel Saturday night, Uber driver Albert Castro said he was more worried about others than himself.
“You hear those stories, ‘Family of five killed by drunk driver,’ Castro told The Sacramento Bee on Wednesday. “I didn’t want it to be ‘Family of five killed by Uber driver.’”
Castro said he was driving down Highway 99 in Sacramento, California, with a passenger who at first “seemed like a normal drunk person,” he said. Police identified the passenger as 32-year-old Tswj Vang, multiple local TV stations reported.
But then, Castro said Vang took hold of the steering wheel on a busy road.
“Five or six minutes into our trip he says ‘You ever crashed before? You’re gonna crash,’ ” Castro recalled.
Under the name Dax Castro, the Uber driver shared a video on Facebook that shows what happened inside the car.
The video begins with Castro saying “you gotta let go of my hand bro” to Vang, who in turn asks “where we at?”
Castro then fights to hold back Vang’s arm, the video shows, as the passenger keeps fighting to grab control of the wheel.
“I love you, brother,” Vang is heard saying in the video as the two men continue to wrestle over the steering wheel.
Castro muscled Vang’s hands away from the wheel after swerving over multiple lanes for a second time near the Highway 50 and Highway 99 interchange, he said. He then hit the brakes and initiated Uber’s panic button, alerting 911.
Vang was arrested by California Highway Patrol officers. Miraculously, Castro said, no one was hurt and no vehicles were damaged.
A spokesperson for Uber said Vang “can no longer access the Uber app,” according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
Vang faces charges for a DUI, Castro said and local TV news stations reported.
“He blew a 0.19” blood alcohol reading on a breathalyzer, Castro said. “So he was completely obliterated.”
Castro told The Bee that Vang was his 5,900th ride exactly.
“It’s 6,000 drives, 15,000 people ... But it only takes one crazy incident to end somebody’s life. This helped me realize that a little bit.”
Castro has a wife and eight kids, he said. He works as a video editor and animator for a large firm when he’s not driving.
But the time he drives – “bar-thirty,” as he called it – can be dangerous.
“It’s prime time for the freaks,” he said.
Castro says the dangers of Uber driving and erratic passengers are another reason drivers should invest in a dashcam, to record incidents like this.
Having driven for about three yeas, Castro said it’s not the first violent incident he’s faced. Castro said he had a gun pulled on him about a year ago.
“They were on the phone with their drug dealer, near as I can tell,” Castro said. “‘I’m gonna get there. I’m gonna get there. If I’m not there in 10 minutes, I’m gonna kill everyone in this f------ car.’ Luckily I looked down and we only had 3 minutes left in the trip.”
Castro isn’t sure if he’ll continue driving for Uber after this weekend’s incident.
“The pay is great. Now I have to evaluate whether that’s all worth it.”