Last Wednesday, 56-year-actor and Lyft driver Phillip Sanchez picked up a fare at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Booked for a half-hour ride, the young insisted on vaping in his car despite signs prohibiting that and eating.
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"I was getting scared," Sanchez said. "And not only that, but that car was a brand new car for me. I have had it two months."
Nevertheless, he detoured at their request to the Wendy's drive-thru off the Dan Ryan at 55th Street.
"And while they are making the transaction I had to remind them, 'Look, the sign's right here: no snacking,'" Sanchez said. "And that's when his girlfriend went ballistic."
As the woman screamed, Sanchez said the 19-year-old male suspect got out to pay at the window, then returned to Sanchez' 2020 Ford Escape. By now, the driver was on the phone with 911.
Sanchez said the woman's behavior at the drive-thru so unnerved him that he could not properly respond to what the dispatcher was asking.
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As a result, dispatch said that they were going to hang up. But according to Sanchez, they had the presence of mind to ensure the police we're alerted.
"He got in the seat behind me and started punching me from behind, right in the chest," Sanchez said. "And then he started doing it in the face."
The pair stole his cellphone and backpack containing his iPad. Sanchez gave chase on foot.
"And he looked at me and turned around and got confrontational and I looked at him like, I am not taking this. You have just drawn the line in the sand. And I got confrontational with him too, and literally he came at me to try and attack me, which I blocked. And as soon as I did that, he got into the driver seat because the door was open already and he took control the car and sped off with it."
By Friday, police had found and charged the male offender. The driver said police told him his car was totaled.
"I have no income now because I don't have a car," Sanchez said. "And I'm not on unemployment because I am tossed off of that, because of the pandemic all my other industries are down."
Sanchez said he's in talks with Lyft and his own insurance company to get his wheels replaced. And despite this episode, he'll likely continue to drive, because he likes his clients... for the most part.