The Uber ride Abby Yuills took to Landsdowne Tuesday night began like any other — until threats were made.
Yuill, 22, documented part of the terrifying experience using her phone and said the two drivers involved were shouting and one threatened to shoot the other.
“I’ve never had a problem with Uber like this,” she said.
Yuill said the ride from her west-end apartment to her friend’s birthday party started out normal as she and the driver engaged in the usual smalltalk. It was as they drove down Woodroffe Avenue to an intersection near Carling Avenue that the situation changed drastically from a car ride to a potential gunfight.
“The guy behind us started honking,” Yuill said.
She said the Uber driver seemed unsure at first of what was happening, but appeared to recognize the driver in the honking vehicle. That’s when he retaliated.
“As we started going, (the Uber driver) slammed on the brakes to aggravate him,” she said. “That’s how it started, there was definitely some beef, they definitely knew each other — this didn’t like come out of nowhere.”
The drivers first exchanged words and honks, but the altercation became dangerous when Yuill and her Uber driver found themselves forced to drive into oncoming traffic along Woodroffe Avenue. Yuill attempted to calm the situation, as she talked to the Uber driver and pleaded for him to keep her safety in mind.
“I said ‘Okay, stop, I’m in the car right now, like you need to stop’,” she said. “I tried talking him down. … But he kept going.”
Yuill then pulled out her phone and recorded the rest of the altercation.
“I knew that they weren’t finished yet, because they were still eyeballing each other. … And swearing at each other,” she said.
The video Yuill captured showed the second driver pull up beside the Uber and threaten to shoot the Uber driver.
“He kept saying ‘I’m going to shoot you, I should shoot you’,” she said.
The Uber driver continued to retaliate, rolling down his window and encouraging the second driver to “do it.”
The situation nearly got violent as the video showed the second driver leave his vehicle and approach the Uber’s passenger side window to confront the Uber driver.
“ Tell me why I shouldn’t pull it on your face right now? Tell me why I shouldn’t pull it on your face right now b—h? ” the second driver asked in the video while hitting the car.
Although the video doesn’t capture it, Yuill said the second driver made gestures to insinuate he had a gun.
Yuill said this was one of the most terrifying moments and she wasn’t sure if it was safer to open the door and attempt to run away, or to stay in the vehicle in case the second driver started firing the gun he implied he had at bystanders.
Eventually, after several seconds the Uber driver drove away and yelled “meet me at Landsdowne b—h,” which is where he was supposed to drop Yuill off.
“I was like … I’m not going to Landsdowne with you,” she said.
Yuill said she didn’t want to be in the car with the driver and the video shows her calmly ask to be let out twice. The driver did eventually let her out.
Yuill said she has filed a police report, and Ottawa Police Services confirmed the matter is under investigation.
Uber said it has also been made aware of the situation and is looking into it.
“Our support team has been in touch with the rider and driver after it was reported to us directly through the app. We are continuing to review this matter,” said Kayla Whaling, an Uber spokesperson, in an email.
Whayling added inappropriate and disrespectful behaviour has no place on the Uber app.
The video shows Yuill’s repeated attempts to de-escalate the situation and she attributes her calmness to her training as a registered nurse.
“I’m a nurse so we do have de-escalation training,” she said. “I’ve been in lots of stressful situations.”
Cst. Amy Gagnon, Ottawa police spokesperson, said in an email that anyone who finds themselves in a dangerous situation “whether it be in a vehicle or not should call 911.”
Yuill said she’s lucky to have the previous experience, but doesn’t think there’s enough education on what to do in these types of dangerous situations.
“I don’t think there’s really enough talk about what to do in that kind of situation and how to get yourself out of it,” she said.