Uber driver says she fought off rider with pepper spray after he attacked her

Uber driver says she fought off rider with pepper spray after he attacked her

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A South Mississippi ride share driver is safe and a man is facing charges after he reportedly attacked her early Saturday morning while leaving a bar.

Uber driver Ruth Kimbro said it started as a seemingly normal ride but quickly turned into a horrifying situation. Kimbro was picking up William Jerde Jr. from an Ocean Springs bar around 1:30 a.m., taking him to Vancleave.

William Jerde Jr. is facing misdemeanor charges after an Uber driver said he attacked her while using the ride-share service. (Photo source: Ocean Springs PD)
William Jerde Jr. is facing misdemeanor charges after an Uber driver said he attacked her while using the ride-share service. (Photo source: Ocean Springs PD)

Jerde was clearly intoxicated from the time Kimbro arrived, she said.

“His friend put him in to the car, and he was having trouble with his seat belt. So, I helped him with his seat belt," she said. "But he grabbed me first, and I said back off!”

Drunk people are something Uber drivers often experience so Kimbro continued with the ride once Jerde had settled down. However, once they got down the road, things went from better to worse.

Kimbro said she was driving down the highway when Jerde attacked her from the backseat.

“He grabbed me from behind, and he is a big guy, ya know,” she recalled. “But he has me in a chokehold, and I was like, ‘Wow, what is going on?’ So, I grabbed my mace and sprayed it over my head to get him to let me go.”

Jerde did let go, said Kimbro, but quickly grabbed her again.

“I am trying to get the car off to the side of the road, and he grabbed me one more time. He puts his hand over my face and over my eyes. I clawed at him to get them off, and I sprayed at him again. Somehow, his face was right here [by her headrest], and so I sprayed him again and he let me go.”

After safely getting on the side of the road, Kimbro said she got out of the car and called police, who showed up soon after to investigate.

Ocean Springs Police arrested Jerde, charging him with two misdemeanors.

In the last few days since the attack, a post made in a Facebook group for local Uber drivers has been shared hundreds of times. It’s been a source of support for Kimbro.

The administrator of that group, Michael Versija, said this is an unfortunate incident but, overall, ride sharing is a positive experience.

“I think the Mississippi Gulf Coast is probably one of the safest environments to do this," said Versija. “I think it speaks to the people in the area. But unfortunately, there have been a handful of situations, particularly involving female drivers.”

Despite the attack, Kimbro said she is not letting this one experience ruin something she truly enjoys doing.

“I am not going to let this person affect my outlook on life or my job,” she said.

Jerde is now facing misdemeanor charges of public intoxication and simple assault.

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