Uber Rider 'Held Against My Will' In High-Speed Chase

Second kidnapping claim against Uber drivers in a month.


Getting into a cab in a major city can be a harrowing experience. Three New York businesspeople who were trying to get from Washington, D.C. to a new branch office in Virginia had an experience beyond belief. A driver with rideshare company Uber held the three against their wills during a "high speed chase across state lines with police," according to a report from the Washington Post.

Ryan Simonetti, CEO of meeting center and hotel management company Convene, and two colleagues had finished a meeting at the Verizon Center and were heading to their new facilities in Tysons Corner, Va. Simonetti, who describes himself as a "die-hard Uber fan," called for an UberBlack ride. That's a premium service that is supposed to provide licensed chauffeurs who undergo background checks and has a $1 million liability policy, according to The Legal Examiner.

It was soon clear why insurance certainly could be a good idea.

A D.C. taxi inspector was talking to the driver of the car they were about to use. Simonetti climbed into the front seat while his colleagues got into the back. He claimed that the inspector walked away with some paperwork and then the driver took off.

The inspector turned on his patrol lights and followed the driver, who told the passengers that "he's not a real cop" and then informed them that he had to run the red light. And so it began - the chase and the dispute.

D.C. Taxicab Commission Chairman Ron Linton told the New York Daily News that there was no chase. "Our hack inspectors are not allowed to chase," he said, noting that inspectors handle civil violations, not criminal.

However, Neville Waters, a spokesman for the D.C. Taxicab Commission, confirmed with the Washington Post that there was an incident between an Uber driver and an inspector.

Whatever it was, Simonetti told the Washington Post that the experience seemed all too real.


"It was like an episode of 'Cops,'" Simonetti said. "We've all seen the 'Cops' episode. This only ends two ways. Either the car crashes or the guy jumps out and runs. And he had plenty of opportunities to slow down and jump out and run, and he wasn't doing that." Simonetti said they drove for eight to 10 minutes.

The driver allegedly kept swerving through traffic, narrowly missing other cars, according to Simonetti, and said that if the inspector caught up with him, it would mean a $2,000 fine.

"It was insane," Simonetti said. "I physically tried to force his leg to hit the brake. I ripped off his pant leg.... I said, 'Here's two options. You take this exit, or I'm going to knock the side of your head in. If we crash, we crash, but you're gonna kill us anyway.'"

The driver pulled off, the inspector - yes, the one who wasn't in pursuit - pulled ahead of the car to keep it from passing. The three passengers got out and the Uber driver allegedly went up an exit ramp the wrong way and took off.

Reportedly, the inspector had originally only wanted to make sure that the pick-up happened through the Uber app and not from the car being hailed from the street, which would have been illegal in Washington because the car and driver were licensed in Virginia.

Update 4:40PM 7/11/2014: Uber told AOL Jobs that the driver had been "deactivated" pending an investigation. As of this afternoon, the company said that it had yet to be contacted by law enforcement to obtain contact information for the driver, which Uber has on file. According to a company spokesperson, when initially screened, the driver had proof of a valid commercial driver's license and insurance. Uber also says that it runs periodic motor vehicle record checks.

This is the second problematic incident involving an Uber driver in about a month. Early in June, an off-duty Uber driver allegedly kidnapped a bar-hopping woman in California with the intent of sexually assaulting her, according to KTLA-TV.

These stories come as many cities and states consider whether they want the rideshare services to operate. Uber, Lyft, and similar companies use an online model that operates in a legal gray area. The companies and their drivers are often not licensed as commercial taxi or limousine services. The taxi industry, which potentially has significant income to lose, has been lobbying against the services and tried to increase concern over safety issues. Uber, at least, seems to be inadvertently helping their efforts.

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arayamm

Wow! Seriously! I get daily e-mails from companies that are currently hiring, Uber is constantly at the top of these e-mails! I've been concerned about me myself as a driver getting assaulted by the person that you are supposed to be giving a ride for, I had not heard about the driver themselves! Yikes!

July 14 2014 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kristine100

wHAT THE HELL IS AN UBER CAB???? i NEVER HEARD THAT TERM BEFORE!

July 12 2014 at 2:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jayreda

This may surprise many that in order to drive Ubber you do not need a HACK license ,all you need is your good old class B license driver license ,But to drive a NYC yellow cab you need get a HACK license and to get it you must pass a 200 question test ,that include, maps,traffic rules, ,English, and directions ,normally you must go to taxi school for at leas 3 months in order to be able to pass the test ,also,back round check and a yearly drug and alcohol testing ,UBBER NONE

July 12 2014 at 2:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ebletswin15196

Uber doesn't care if it's employees get into an accident. They only care about the $. Anyways, who made up that name"Uber".

July 12 2014 at 12:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ebletswin15196

Uber sucks

July 12 2014 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ebletswin15196

Uber should pay their employees more. They are all over Craigslist

July 12 2014 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ffjsb

That's why I don't take taxi's or ride share, I rent a car if I can't bring my own

July 11 2014 at 11:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
espana66

this goes both ways. How does the driver know who is getting in his car? The criminals are going to get wise and start robbing them like cabs. You can get any pyscho for what a small fee? It's redicules what people are doing for money and work.

July 11 2014 at 3:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
baboo

A few facts: UberX and UberBlack are like apples and oranges. X is you in your Prius picking up strangers and giving them rides and getting paid for it. You have no insurance, no license, no background check and in fact, can give your phone and your car to anyone to use when you aren't able to drive and no one will know. Black is actually a licensed, insured, commercial limo driver with probably an FBI background check who works for a licensed, insured Limo company picking up extra work with approval from your company when you aren't doing work for them. This sounds like a driver who has heard horror stories about UberX drivers being stopped and fined because they are basically operating illegally in most states, who thinks the same thing may happen to him. Ignorance is a dangerous thing.

July 11 2014 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bedbugtoo

My problem with Uber and the rest of the share a ride companies, they need the exact control on them as the taxi companies! Yes it is a cheaper ride, I have a problem with the safety aspect from auto maintenance to backround checks. In Seattle the battle is on, amount of share ride cars just driving around to how they pay taxes to the different towns, cities and how do you keep track of that? Are you using a private auto or commercial a commercial vehicle. Since money is changing hands for a service then you really aren't sharing a ride, when you hit the APP you are asking for transportation from one point to another. It is not a donation it is hire for service, which is what a Limo Service, Taxi Service, even your bus service run by city, county, state. Would you you expect someone coming up with a speed boat or what ever water craft because you APP them and they pull up right beside the ferry dock. In the article, Inspector was checking if they had flagged down or used an APP so who paying for that, the taxpayers? You know it isn't Uber or the drivers.

July 11 2014 at 2:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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