March 2, 2020 By Allie Griffin
An Uber driver is clinging to life after being punched in the head by a passenger he picked up outside a Woodside strip club last month.
Mohammed Al-Gahaffi, 54, who remains in a coma, picked up a group of six people — including his attacker — in front of Privileged Gentlemen’s Club, located at 49-14 Queens Blvd, in the early morning hours on Feb. 5.
Al-Gahaffi got into an argument with the alleged perpetrator after he asked him to stop drinking alcohol in the back of his car as they were driving into Manhattan, police said.
The perpetrator — along with the group — jumped out of the Uber near East 62nd Street and 2nd Avenue and Al-Gahaffi stopped his car and hopped out as well. The passenger then punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground and fracturing the 54-year-old’s skull at around 4:25 a.m., police said.
The group ran off and police have since talked to one passenger, but are looking to question the other five passengers. The man believed to have assaulted Al-Gahaffi was last seen wearing a blue hoodie, according to police.
EMS rushed Al-Gahaffi to New York-Presbyterian/ Weill Cornell Medical Center following the attack and he was placed in a coma. He suffered severe head trauma and is currently listed in critical, but stable condition, police said.
Al-Gahaffi, a Yemeni immigrant, worked as a celebrity driver and then a yellow cab driver for years before he began working for the ride-sharing app.
He was trying to save money to get his 21-year-old daughter, who is a refugee in Ethiopia from the war-torn Yemen, to the U.S.
The Yemeni American Merchants Association and the NYS Federation of Taxi Drivers are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of the people involved in the assault.
At a press conference Sunday to announce the reward, Al-Gahaffi’s nephew said his uncle was recovering slowly.
“He doesn’t deserve it because he’s been a great man to a lot of people,” his nephew, who shares the same name — Mohammed Al-Gahaffi, said.
His uncle has been in a coma for more than 25 days and suffered a fractured skull.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to hear his voice soon,” the younger Al-Gahaffi said.
At the press conference, the NYS Federation of Taxi Drivers (NYSFTD) criticized the NYPD for failing to put out information about the assault earlier and said drivers must be kept safe while just trying to make a living.
“We need to make sure that our drivers when they leave their home every morning, they can return home to their families,” said Fernando Mateo, a spokesperson for NYSFTD. “Today there is a lot of uncertainty.”
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, on Twitter @NYPDTips.