Lyft driver recalls terrifying hour-long ride with released hospital patient

Lyft driver terrified during 1 hour ride

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A local Lyft driver was terrified after one of his scheduled rides turned into an hour of uncertainty.

The terrifying drive started as Andre Pope showed up to VCU Medical center to pick up a patient who needed to be transported to Newport News.

When he got there, he says a nurse escorted the passenger to his car and then left.

He says what happened when the passenger got inside that caused things to quickly escalate.

“It was hell for the next hour,” Pope said.

He says the passenger, who appeared disheveled, began talking to himself while raising his voice.

"He started talking about peppermint patties and coffee cans and then it was like he was talking to himself and answering himself back. I was like ‘Okay, this guy is tripping,'” Pope recalled.

The driver had no clue how to respond.

"I didn’t want to say ‘Hey are you alright back there?’ and then he say something like ‘What do you mean am I alright?’ or just say something off the wall,” Pope said.

So he kept his hands glued to the wheel.

“I was bracing myself to get hit because that’s the first thing that ran through my mind. I was like ‘Okay, if he hits me at least I know I have a good grip on the wheel. Hopefully I’m not going to swerve on another car,'” Pope recalled.

He feels he shouldn't have to deal with this.

"When you’re not sane and you don't know the difference between right and wrong, that's something that I can't handle or I'm not trained to handle,” he said.

NBC12 expressed Pope’s concerns to Lyft.

"The safety of our community is fundamental to Lyft and the incident described is deeply concerning. We have been in touch with the driver to offer our support,” the representative said in a statement.

"If you know there’s a scheduled ride and they’re at a medical facility, there should be a few questions on that app [such as] are you an employee? Is this person a passenger? If they’re a passenger, is this person a risk to himself or others?” Pope suggested.

He also would have liked to receive a heads up regarding the patient’s condition from VCU.

"They could’ve let me know, that way I actually had the choice of whether to decline the ride. I have a wife and four kids to think about."

“When it comes time for a patient to leave one of our locations, our medical teams work with the patient and his or her family to assess an appropriate level of transportation method for the individual’s medical condition. VCU Health provides that guidance to a HIPAA-compliant intermediary – often a patient’s insurance company or a company that specializes in patient transportation. That company coordinates with transportation companies to secure an appropriate and safe ride. The method of transport could range from taxi to shared transportation to ambulance, among others. For patient privacy reasons, we cannot share specific details or comment on a patient’s case,” said Alexandra Nowak with VCU Medical Center.

Lyft says if a driver feels unsafe during a ride, he/she can connect with 911 from the Lyft app, which shows the driver’s exact location and car information so that dispatchers can get help to them quickly.

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