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An Uber driver has shared details of the shocking moment he was bitten and throttled by a passenger while driving her home.
Michael Hassey Jr, 22, from Florida, picked up Michele Stilwell, 55, on Saturday afternoon and she soon fell asleep in the back of the car.
Suddenly she woke up and lunged at him, wrapping her hands and then her arms around his neck, according to a police report.
The startled driver pulled over and tried to flee, but she crawled towards him and bit a chunk out of his neck.
The 55-year-old continued to scratch, bite and choke him from behind as he struggled to defend himself, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.
Hassey Jr released footage of the assault following the ordeal in which Stilwell could reportedly be heard swearing and shouting “die” as she strangled him.
Gasping for air, the 22-year-old cried: "I can’t breathe. I’m just your Uber driver, I’m just your Uber driver."
But Stilwell continued her attack until her target was able to prise himself free and escape.
Hassey Jr was left with a bloody bite wound to his neck
In an interview with local TV station WFLA8, he explained that Stilwell had been asleep for most of the journey until they were just a few blocks from her home.
As she began attacking him, she shouted: “My daughter, my daughter”.
The traumatised victim continued: "She started screaming curse words at me and slapped me in the face. She sinks into my neck like a pitbull, shaking her head and stuff."
He added: "I’ve never been that scared in my whole entire life, I thought I was going to die."
The 22-year-old, a welder by trade, went on to say that hadn’t fought back because he didn’t want to hurt the woman.
Hassey Jr was left shaken and needing psychological support
He explained: “I didn’t put my hands back on her because I have two sisters and I was raised to never put my hands on a female."
Hassey Jr, who said he was now seeking the support of psychologists, added that he had tried to get in touch with Uber after the attack but had heard nothing back.
A spokesperson for the ride-hailing app told WFLA8: "What’s been described is disturbing.
"Violence of any kind is not tolerated on the Uber app, and we immediately removed the rider’s access as soon as this was reported to us."
Stilwell was charged with two felonies over the incident
Stilwell’s neighbors told the broadcaster that the attack was out of character for the 55-year-old – a registered nurse with 25 years of experience.
The circumstances surrounding the assault remain unclear, but Stilwell has allegedly said that she recalls nothing about the incident.
A police report suggests she may have been under the influence of alcohol at the time.
The 55-year-old has since been charged with aggravated battery and tampering with a witness.
She was later released on a $15,000 bond.