Family Says Son Died After Lyft Driver Left Him on Freeway

23-year-old Justin Lavelle killed by hit-and-run driver Jan. 31
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2018 6:26 PM CST
This is a Lyft logo being installed on a Lyft driver's car on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 in Pittsburgh.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(Newser) – The California Highway Patrol is investigating after a 23-year-old Lyft passenger somehow ended up on a Los Angeles freeway, where he was killed by a hit-and-run driver, CBS Los Angeles reports. According to NBC Los Angeles, Justin Lavelle was taking a Lyft from West Hollywood to Long Beach early Jan. 31. During the ride, he called a friend and said his driver was acting "weird." What happened next is a matter of contention. While CBS reports Lavelle somehow fell out of the car onto the 110 Freeway, Lavelle's mother tells NBC her son was attacked by the Lyft driver and forced out onto the freeway. Amy Lavelle says she spoke to her son on the phone before his death. "He was screaming hideously and saying, 'Mom, mom, I have been pepper sprayed,'" she says.

The driver, Tariq Rasseed, says he made Lavelle get out on the freeway because he was drunk and putting both their lives in danger, demanding Rasseed drive faster and grabbing the steering wheel. "He hold my steering and I couldn’t move an inch," Rasseed says. "I would have died. I didn’t have no choice left." Rasseed denies spraying Lavelle with anything. Witnesses called the California Highway Patrol around 12:45am to report a man running on the freeway shoulder and into the lanes, ABC News reports. The California Highway Patrol says the vehicle that hit and killed Lavelle drove off before authorities arrived. CBS reports Lavelle was hit by multiple vehicles. Both Lyft and Uber have suspended Rasseed as a driver.

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