PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida woman is facing battery charges after officials say she assaulted an Uber driver in an unprovoked attack Saturday.
Michael Hassey Jr., 22, said he responded to a ride request in front of a Tampa restaurant around 5 p.m. Saturday.
“When I first pulled up to pick up the rider, a young group of women approached the car and one of them said ‘I called an Uber for my mother, can you please get her home safe?’” Hassey told WFLA.
Hassey promised the daughter he would get her home safe, not knowing it was he who had to be worried.
Hassey said the woman, later identified by police as 55-year-old Michele Stilwell, remained asleep in the backseat until they were blocks away from her home. At that point, he said she “sprouted up” and began attacking him from the backseat.
“She started screaming curse words at me and slapped me in the face,” Hassey said.
After he pulled over, bystander video shows Stilwell choking and scratching at Hassey, eventually crawling over the center console to bite him.
Hassey can be heard in the video saying “I can’t breathe,” and pleading with the woman, saying “I’m just your Uber driver, I’m just your Uber driver.” He said later he thought he was going to die.
“It was hands down the most traumatizing thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said.
Up until the biting began, Hassey can be seen in the video with his hands up, not fighting back.
“I let it happen. I didn’t put my hands back on her because I have two sisters and I was raised to never put my hands on a female,” Hassey said.
Multiple witnesses rushed to Hassey’s aid, pulling Stilwell off of him and calling 911. With their help, he is able to exit the car after pulling the keys from the ignition.
Stilwell was charged with tampering with a witness and aggravated battery and was released on a combined $15,000 bond for the two charges at 2:30 Sunday morning.
According to the arrest affidavit, deputies believe Stilwell was under the influence of alcohol.
When a WFLA reporter visited Stillwell’s home Wednesday, her husband Rob said the family, “would respect some privacy as we go through this.”
He said his wife didn’t remember anything for three or four hours, until she woke up at the hospital. He said she’s not doing well, and neither is he.
“I’m suffering from cancer so we have a lot going on,” he said.
A welder by trade, Hassey said for him, driving Uber just isn’t worth the extra cash after this incident, saying Uber never reached out to him in the incident.
“My biggest takeaway is I would stay away from Uber,” said Hassey.
An Uber spokesperson said, “What’s been described is disturbing. Violence of any kind is not tolerated on the Uber app, and we immediately removed the rider’s access as soon as this was reported to us.”
Pictures from witnesses of the attack on April 17th, 2021.