CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Rene Sanchez has been an Uber driver for eight months in Richmond, but he is now looking for a new career path after he was attacked inside his car driving on Interstate 95 in Chesterfield.
Sanchez said the trouble began when he picked up two passengers at District 5 on West Main Street in the Fan. Their destination, he said, was to be Fort Lee near Petersburg.
Sanchez, 40, said the passengers were drunk and one threw up in the car during the trip.
When he stopped to provide water to the vomiting passenger, the second passenger went inside a gas station to buy his friend a clean shirt. When the man returned to the car, the trip resumed.
While traveling about 60 miles per hour in the interstate, Sanchez said the man who went inside the gas station reached over and began to choke him.
"He attacked me," Sanchez, who was a police officer and bodyguard in his native of El Salvador said. "I think he was trying to kill me. I saw it in his eyes."
Sanchez said he had no idea what prompted the attack. He was able to pull his car over safely and defend himself.
"The suspect fled the scene on foot," Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Steve Vick said. "The other passenger remained at the scene. The driver did not need medical treatment, but there were signs of an assault."
Police eventually tracked down and arrested the suspect, Maxwell Sweeney.
Sweeney, 22, of Mansfield, Mass., was booked at Chesterfield Jail, charged with one count of strangling another causing wounding or injury (Class 6 felony) and one count of vandalism to a vehicle.
Sweeney is a Marine stationed at Fort Lee, a Fort Lee spokesperson confirmed.
Law enforcement sources said at Sweeney fled from the scene, he came back to the spot on 95. That’s where police arrested him. Sources said the Marine claimed to have been surrounded by snakes.
Law enforcement sources said Sweeney told police he had been drinking and that was the reason for his behavior.
The Sunday evening incident (it happened at about 6:05 p.m.) was enough to convince Sanchez to look for a new line of work.
"I'm [now] scared to drive with somebody I don't know," he said.
Sanchez said he planned to alert Uber about the incident.