Uber driver says drunk passenger choked him during ride on Hall Road in Macomb County

Joe Iafrate says passenger was employee of well-known salon owner

MT. CLEMENS, Mich. – Macomb County sheriff's deputies received a desperate call Wednesday from an Uber driver who was attacked while driving on Hall Road.

Joe Iafrate said he was attacked by a passenger in the back seat during a ride that got completely out of control.

"The last thing on my mind was anything violent happening like that," Iafrate said.

Iafrate has logged more than 2,800 trips as an Uber driver, so he thought he'd seen it all. But just after midnight Wednesday, he was called to the Rec Bowl in Mt. Clemens to pick up a passenger.

The person requesting the trip is a well-known salon owner in town, but he didn't need the ride, an employee of his did.

Iafrate said the man was very drunk and initially told him to drop him off at the nearest bar.

"I can't do that," Iafrate said. "This is my job to drive you home safely."

His passenger tried calling others to meet up with him at another bar, but got rebuffed. That's when Iafrate said things got violent.

"He starts choking me, or strangling me, or whatever he's trying to do to me for whatever reason," Iafrate said. "I'm, like, 'Get off me. Leave me alone. Get away from me.' I'm freaking out. The guy's trying to kill me or something."

Iafrate said the man started choking him from the back seat, so he pulled into a gas station, grabbed his keys and phone, and ran inside. He called 911, and a couple of minutes later, multiple police squad cars showed up.

The drunk man locked himself in the car and refused to come out. Deputies were eventually able to drag him out of the car.

"Apparently he must have been resisting arrest or something," Iafrate said. "Then they pretty much dragged him out."

You can watch Mara MacDonald's full story in the video posted above.

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