MEMPHIS, TN – A Memphis Uber driver is accused of hitting his passenger with a baseball bat after being told he was headed the wrong way. John Pearson shows us his arm as it heals from being hit with a baseball bat. He says an Uber driver struck him three days ago.
"It just kind of took me by surprise. I was just kind of amazed by it. I was just traumatized a little bit," John Pearson told us.
The incident started around 10 p.m. Thursday night when he was trying to get a ride home to midtown from Sweet Grass in Cooper Young.
"When the Uber driver got there, he was a little agitated. Asked me if I was going to throw up in his car," said Pearson.
An uncomfortable start, but then it got worse when the driver started going the wrong direction. Pearson said he brought it up and the driver asked him if he wanted to call a different ride.
"And then as we proceeded almost to East Parkway, I said ‘hey man, I live the other direction’ and he said, ‘Get out! Get out of my car! Get another Uber!’"
He says the driver pulled over to this car wash and ditched him. Taken aback, Pearson says he lightly kicked the bumper.
"He slammed on his brakes and immediately got out an aluminum baseball bat and came and swung at me, and I put my arm up to block it and he smashed me on my wrist," explained Pearson
He went to this gas station across the street and was told no one saw it happen and that it wouldn’t have been caught on their surveillance camera. When police arrived, they used Pearson’s phone to identify 44-year-old Juan Magdalenas as the driver. Police reports show he’s been connected to multiple assaults in the past.
"I take Uber all the time. You never know when you’re going to draw the bad apple, the weird wild card like that. I just don’t understand," said Pearson.
All Uber’s told him is they deactivated Magdalenas’ account. Pearson uses the app every day without a problem and has a 4.99 rating. Saying he’d expect more support from the company. Uber released a response to the story Tuesday afternoon.
It reads: "This is a regrettable and concerning incident. The driver was removed from the app and we are looking into the matter."
The driver told the company it was an argument, rather than an assault.