It was a slow night for Uber driver Syed Subhan.
And that may have helped save the life of a young woman who was grabbed off a street near DePaul University’s Lincoln Park campus and repeatedly slashed with a knife.
Subhan, 28, had started picking up riders around 8 p.m. last Wednesday but, seven hours later, he still hadn’t reached his earnings target for the night. So he kept driving.
He decided to head to a 24-hour Starbucks for a late-night boost around 3:30 a.m. when something caught his eye at the intersection of North Halsted Street, Fullerton Parkway and Lincoln Avenue.
A young woman had collapsed on the sidewalk.
“What made me stop was the blood. It was around her,” Subhan said. “When I saw her, she was shaking her hand. She was in a very bad condition.”
Subhan said he called 911 and made a U-turn so he could provide a description of the woman to the operator. Then he got out of his car and waited, about 100 feet away from her.
Paramedics found the 22-year-old woman — a recent graduate of DePaul — unresponsive and bleeding from her face and neck. She had been slashed on both sides of her face and to the right side of her neck, according to Chicago police. She was taken in critical condition to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where she underwent surgery.
Police say she has been upgraded to serious condition, but it’s unknown whether she has talked to detectives. No one has been arrested. Police have said there is surveillance video, but no images have been released to the public. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said investigators think the attacker was driving a stolen car that has not been recovered.
“We are working hard to follow up on leads,” Guglielmi said in an email, encouraging residents in the area with camera systems to contact police.
Officers responding to Subhan’s call discovered that the woman had been attacked in an alley about half a block away. They found a phone there and a “large pool of blood,” police said.
Investigators think her attacker drove his car the wrong way down Belden Avenue before turning onto the 2300 block of Halsted and pulling her off the street, according to police spokesman Tom Ahern. The woman was slashed as she fought back.
She ran north on Halsted before collapsing. Subhan said he stood on the sidewalk near her and waited for the ambulance. It came in 2 to 3 minutes, and he stayed to speak with police officers for about two hours.
Subhan said he then got back in his car and continued to pick up riders for a few more hours. He finished driving around 9 a.m. The rest of that day was extremely difficult, he said.
“For 10 to 11 hours, I was in a traumatic condition,” he said. He was relieved to learn from news reports that the woman was going to live.
Four days later, safety alerts remained on the doors of DePaul’s School of Music buildings near the attack.
Subhan said he has tried to settle back into the rhythm of his life. “I’d seen that kind of stuff before because I’m originally from Pakistan,” he said. “I’d seen blood in my life before.
“I’m not saying I did something heroic,” he added. “It could have been anyone.”