The Uber driver responsible for secretly recording several Ottawa Senators players on video and posting it online says “the dumbest decision” of his life has cost him his job.
James Sparklin, who had been driving for Uber for 2 1/2 years, was reportedly fired after a video capturing Senators players as they trashed their team and coach went viral earlier in the week.
The video sparked a controversy centred around the players and the apparent violation of their privacy, forcing both Uber and Lyft to confirm that the ride-sharing companies do not permit drivers to stream or publish videos of their passengers.
Sparklin spoke with the Ottawa Sun four days after the incident went viral, saying he was aggravated when he realized he had picked up seven passengers. He says the load had “put me at a risk,” adding that he was concerned his $1-million liability coverage might not be enough to protect him if he were to get into a traffic accident.
According to the Sun, Sparklin was so distraught during the 20-minute interview that at one point he reportedly sobbed.
“What really upset me the most was, if I were to get in an accident, I don’t believe the insurance would cover it,” Sparklin told the Sun. “The million-dollar policy would go very fast.”
After stewing over the events of that fateful night on October 29 — the day before the Senators were set to take on the Coyotes in Arizona — Sparkling was reportedly intoxicated as he posted a segment of the video on YouTube.
His intention, he says, was to show his fellow drivers how high-profile passengers can behave. Sparklin says he was shocked by the players and their candour, saying “I’m just not accustomed to that kind of language and how they’re talking in that kind of atmosphere.”
The video had accumulated roughly 100 views when Sparklin was asked to take it down — which he did, but only after tweeting about it. He attempted to explain his position to Uber before the company had let him go for violating its terms of service.
“I didn’t think about my actions at all. I wasn’t trying to get money or anything like that. I got contacted and took it down right away.”
Sparklin reportedly installed the camera for his protection, saying he was involved in an incident prior to the Senators controversy where a motorist caused more than $10,000 in damage to his Toyota Sienna.
Sparklin’s admission appears to refute an earlier report that he had allegedly released the video to the public because he didn’t receive a tip.
As we learn more about this story, the Senators have already begun to take action. The organization reportedly demanded that the Ottawa Citizen — which first reported on the story — take down the secretly recorded video, according to the CBC, but the newspaper rejected to team’s request.
“The public interest in the Senators as an organization extends beyond the team’s performance on the ice,” said Michelle Richardson, Editor-In-Chief of the Ottawa Citizen, in a statement.
The Senators responded quickly, denying Citizen reporter Ken Warren access to the team’s charter to Florida, where Ottawa is set to face off against Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
The players involved in the Uber incident, Matt Duchene, Thomas Chabot, Alex Formenton, Dylan DeMelo, Colin White, Chris Tierney and Chris Wideman, extended their deepest apologies to the team — and specifically assistant coach Martin Raymond — shortly after the video had gone viral.
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