An Uber driver is facing charges for refusing to take a blind woman because of her service dog and then dragging the boyfriend 10ft along the street after his arm got caught in the window.
Milissa Garside and her boyfriend David Welch, who are both legally blind, have told this week how the driver turned them down as soon as he saw Milissa’s service dog Theo as they stood outside her home in Boston, Massachusetts, on Saturday night.
Garside, a masters student, had already been turned down by another car whose driver canceled the trip after calling her and failing to understand her because he did not speak English, she said.
She had asked Welch, 41, to come down to help her. He is legally blind but has better vision than she does.
When ‘Allen’, the second driver, arrived in his Toyota Camry, the pair were standing in the street.
Milissa Garside, 39, and her boyfriend David Welch, 41, were turned down by the Uber driver on Saturday night at 6.35pm in Boston, Massachusetts. She has no vision whereas her boyfriend is legally blind but can see some things
Upon sight of Theo, he rolled down the rear passenger window and allegedly told the pair: ‘No dogs.’
Welch and Garside, who rely on Ubers for getting around and are well-versed in disability law, told him it was illegal for him to refuse them.
Welch then stuck his hand through the open window to unlock the backseat. He claims this is when Allen rolled it back up, trapping his hand.
With his hand still stuck in the back of the car, the driver accelerated and dragged him between 10 and 15ft along the road.
The driver did not stop and he only broke free when his hand fell out, Garside told DailyMail.com.
The woman, who lost her sight when she was three, was frightened by the commotion which she could only hear but not see.
‘I was freaked out because I could hear Richard running, trying to keep up with the car. I knew something was happening so I kept asking “what’s happening, what’s happening?”.
The Uber driver, named only as Allen (above in his profile on the app) told them he would not accept dogs
Garside’s service dog Theo was with her and he was wearing his service dog vest at the time but the driver refused
‘No one answered then Rich got up and a witness who saw it all came over to me and told me what happened.’
The couple called police who showed up 45 minutes later to take a report. Garside says she has since been told by a detective assigned to their case that he wants to charge Allen with aggravated assault and battery.
Welch was dragged 10-15ft along the ground by the car and was left requiring stitches to his finger
Uber has suspended Allen’s driver account pending the criminal investigation.
Garside said she wanted to raise awareness of the plight of blind people who are all too often turned down by the app’s drivers despite its policies and federal laws clearly dictating that they must be allowed into the cars with dogs.
She said a third of all her trips involve her being turned down because of Theo.
‘Its a country wide problem. Uber has been discriminating against blind people with dogs.
‘It needs to stop. I just want to be able to take a ride like everyone else. I don’t have time to request four or five before one agrees to take me.’
She admitted two thirds of the drivers she encounters were helpful and accommodating.
Theo has been her guide dog for a year. She trained him at The Guide Dog Foundation in Smithtown, New York, she said.