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Lyft Driver Attacked Me, Philly Teen Says, as Ride-Shares Grapple With Assaults

A teenager says her Lyft driver attacked her after the driver cut a ride short. The assault claim comes within a week of a major report and a lawsuit detailing violence on rides provided by Uber and Lyft

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Helene Barrios wanted a Lyft ride from her mother's house in the Olney section of Philadelphia to a friend's house on Sunday.

What she got, the 18-year-old claims, is an assault by the Lyft driver and a trip to the hospital. Barrios says it happened after a ride from hell, including the driver objecting to Barrios' request not to text and drive and to turn down loud music.

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The driver, she said, then told Barrios to get out. When the teenager told the driver she recorded the entire encounter, Barrios claims the driver went berserk.

"As soon as she heard that I was recording, immediately she got mad and aggravated," Barrios said in an interview with NBC10. "...When she sees that I'm still recording, that's when she throws herself up off it and she tries to grab the phone. ... That's when she starts to hit me and she attacks me."

The teen's alleged attack comes a week after Uber released its most comprehensive report ever on assaults and rapes that occurred during rides in 2018.

Meanwhile, 19 women filed a lawsuit Dec. 5 against Lyft for failing to prevent sexual assaults against them and then covering up the complaints.

Barrios said Wednesday that she didn't seek compensation from Lyft, but wanted to tell her story to push the ride-sharing company to improve its screening of drivers.

"I want them to screen their drivers more because I don't want this to happen to anyone else," she said.

Lyft said in a statement that the driver has been permanently banned from driving from the company.

"The incident described is troubling. Community safety is fundamental to Lyft, and we have been in touch with the rider to extend our support," company spokesman Abram Smith said in a statement. "We have permanently banned the driver from Lyft and stand ready to assist law enforcement."

Upper Moreland police responded to the incident, Barrios said, and told the woman that they would send her an incident report through email. An attorney for Barrios said he had not yet received the report, but added that he would recommend that the young woman not seek a simple assault charge against the driver.

Upper Moreland police confirmed that officers responded to the incident.

While the attack was traumatizing to Barrios, he said it would be more trouble than it's worth for all involved to have to go through with court proceedings.

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