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California

‘Feeling of terror': Uber passenger shocks driver when he grabs wheel of car

Video shows an Uber rider allegedly under the influence trying to take the steering wheel from his driver.

Police say a man in south Sacramento was intoxicated when he tried to take control of his Uber driver’s car by grabbing the steering wheel.

Tswj Vang, 32, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence Saturday. Albert Dax Castro, the driver, said it was one of many crazy experiences he’s had working for Uber — but it was by far the most frightening.

Castro picked up his fare at Corner Pocket Sports Bar in Citrus Heights about 9:20 p.m. and began traveling south on Highway 99. He said he didn’t think there was anything unusual about Vang at first.

“Because of the time I drive at night, mostly he just seemed like a typical drunk passenger,” Castro said.

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But about 20 minutes into the ride, Vang started saying strange things, asking whether Castro had ever been in a crash, the Uber driver said. “It started to make me a little nervous.”

Dashcam video shows Vang asking, “Where we at?” repeatedly. It appears Vang is holding onto the gearshift, while the driver says, “You got to let go of my hand, bro.”

In the video, Castro tells Vang where they are, but he abruptly grabs hold of the car’s steering wheel. The driver restrains him by holding one arm against the man’s chest, but Vang gets loose and lunges toward the wheel again.

“We’re not gonna die, man, but you gotta let go,” Castro tells him.

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“I love you, brother. I love you, brother,” the passenger says.

The Uber driver said the incident rattled him.

“You can see in the footage when he grabs the wheel the first time the panic in my eyes,” Castro said. “Once I got him settled back down again, I thought, ‘Wow, that was close.’ But when he did it the second time, there was a whole different kind of feeling of terror.”

Castro stopped the car and called police. Vang was arrested at 10:20 p.m. on suspicion of DUI, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Harris.

alejandra.reyesvelarde@latimes.com

Twitter: @r_valejandra


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