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Bend Uber driver talks of defending herself against attacker

Still shaken, she does not want to continue ridesharing job

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- An Uber driver who was attacked by a passenger in southwest Bend late Saturday night spoke with NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday, sharing the frightening details of what happened, and how she fended off her assailant with a stun gun, pepper spray and a baton.

The driver, Rhonda Bowlin, is a mother of six. She is also a former Bend firefighter. She said her training kicked in after she picked up a passenger who appeared to be intoxicated Saturday night and he attacked her.

Deschutes County sheriff's deputies identified the passenger as Mark Mastalir, 52, of Bend. According to his LinkedIn profile, which has been taken down, Mastalir was the co-CEO and chief marketing officer of Halo Neuroscience.

Bowlin said three of Mastalir's friends helped him get into her car when she arrived to pick him up. When she asked for a destination, she said the friends told her Mastalir, who was drunk and on the verge of passing out, would tell her specifically where to drop him off later on.

Bowlin said she was only given a general area of where to drop him off on Skyline Ranch Road. She said he passed out in the back seat of her car, and woke up later, asking her where she was going.

"He started saying, 'Where are we?'" Bowlin said. "I said, 'I'm just taking you to your home,' and he said, 'No, you're not. We’re going to spend some time together."

From there, Bowlin said he got out of the car and grabbed her by her hair before slamming her onto the asphalt.

Bowlin said she tried using her Taser and pepper spray on Mastalir, but he didn't seem fazed by them.

“I've seen videos of other Uber drivers who have been through attacks, and it scared me enough to want to carry protection," Bowlin said.

She then used a collapsible baton to hit him repeatedly.

"I started hitting him, and I said, 'Let go of me! Let go of me!"" Bowlin said. "I told myself, 'Don't stop -- just keep hitting him until he lets go.'"

After Mastalir finally did let go, Bowlin said she got back into her car and waited at the next intersection for police to arrive.

Bowlin, who has five daughters and a son, said she wants her children to know their mother did not give up during a fight -- and hopes they would do the same.

Mastalir was released from jail after posting 10 percent of his $145,000 bail, hours after being arrested.

Bowlin said she's worried he might cause trouble again. She said she doesn't plan on continuing driving for Uber after the incident.

“I hope they (authorities) keep him safe from other people in the community," she said.

Bend / Central Oregon / Crime And Courts / Top Stories

Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.

Comments

12 Comments

  1. This stinks! Why is she doubling down? How is this even possible?? a first time user of Uber learns the first time they use the service, one must provide a destination. Otherwise, the App will not activate for drivers!!

    “Bowlin said she was only given a general area of where to drop him off on Skyline Ranch Road.”

    “Bowlin said three of Mastalir’s friends helped him get into her car when she arrived to pick him up. When she asked for a destination, she said the friends told her Mastalir, who was drunk and on the verge of passing out, would tell her specifically where to drop him off later on.”

      1. I also did not see that as a specific requirement. I did see that you can set up special requests through an operator. I believe if the operator sets it up, the app is active. I’ve never used Uber, so I may be wrong. I included the link– not sure if it will work.

        https://gogograndparent.com/?msclkid=b2d8db3a99cd12832c7d8541f3c4f68e&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=GoGoGrandparent_Uber_US_BMM_Desktop&utm_term=%2Buber%20%2Bcom&utm_content=Uber_Domain#services-section

    1. DT, your comment is completely nonsensical. Are you implying the victim here is somehow to blame? There may be more to the story, but I find your lack of empathy disturbing.

      1. I’m not blaming her for being attacked. I’m saying she has no room to complain about him doing it again, when she’s the one that let him live to do it again

  2. Bowlin did an excellent job of keeping herself safe, however the county has failed. Setting this guys bail for such a low amount, when he is a violent criminal by doing what he did is not okay. I’m guessing that the pandemic may have helped them to decide on setting his bail low enough for him to pay it quickly? I would hope the authorities would have released him with caveats, like maybe no drinking until after his court date?

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