FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – A Lyft driver was attacked while he was driving after a passenger became upset over a plastic partition set up between them to help limit the spread of COVID-19, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
Video from the Sheriff’s Office shows 36-year-old Travis S. Smith putting the driver in a headlock while the car is in motion.
Smith’s friend and his friend’s 7-year-old child were also in the backseat of the car at the time of the incident.
Deputies said they responded to the intersection of Belle Terre Parkway and Royal Palm Parkway early Sunday just after midnight after receiving calls about a fight in the street.
Investigators said Smith was visibly intoxicated at the scene.
Smith told deputies he was traveling from Flagler Beach to Rockne Lane, according to investigators.
The driver told investigators Smith pulled down the plastic partition and attacked him causing him to lose control of the vehicle, according to deputies.
“This was a very dangerous situation for not only the people inside the vehicle but for the other motorists on the roadway,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “This drunk attacked an innocent driver and put numerous lives in danger. These rider-share services can quickly become dangerous and drivers should be cautious of who they let in their vehicle. Thankfully the video recording device captured the entire incident and he went to jail.”
The driver said before the attack Smith asked him about the partition and become upset, according to deputies. The dashcam video showed Smith asking the driver about the plastic partition and then calling him a “liar” before ripping down the barrier and grabbing the driver’s neck.
In the video, the child could be heard crying after Travis put the driver in a headlock and the car was still moving.
Court documents show the driver told investigators prior to the attack a dinging noise was coming from the rear of the car due to a door being ajar. Smith became irritated about it and accused the driver of intentionally creating the noise, according to the driver.
Deputies said the Lyft driver suffered minor injuries in the incident.
The driver had a hematoma on the side of his forehead.
Smith is facing charges of battery and child abuse.
The child abuse charge is for putting the 7-year-old’s life in jeopardy during the attack while the car was moving, according to deputies.
Deputies said Smith was transported to the Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility and released after posting a bond.
Investigators said his friend Andrew Kastl can be heard telling Smith “Get that [expletive]” on the dashcam footage.
Kastl was placed under arrest for battery and child abuse, according to investigators.