A CEO for Convene is making the news today after he was briefly kidnapped and taken on a high-speed chase against his will by an Uber driver. The New York man was in D.C. on business when an Uber driver picked him and his colleagues up for a short ride to a meeting, but the journey turned into a frightening nightmare, according to the New York Daily News on July 10.
Ryan Simonetti’s plight went viral after he tweeted that he was just kidnapped by a Uber driver in D.C. and said he was “held against my will.” He likened the high-speed chase that the driver took them on to an episode of “Cops” the reality TV show.
Simonetti’s ride started when the Uber driver picked his group up and they headed out for their destination. In a matter of minutes, what looked like a cop to Simonetti seemed to be following their car, reports MSN News.
When he mentioned this to the driver, the driver said that it wasn’t a real cop and then told the passengers, “I am sorry, we are going to have to run this red light.” This is was the first indication for the CEO that the chase was on.
What Simonetti thought was a cop car was actually a D.C. taxi inspector who was trying to pull over the Uber driver to check his log to see if he picked up a legal fare and not just people on the street. The driver took off at such a high speed, Simonetti at one point ripped the guy’s pants trying to move his leg to apply the brake.
He told the driver to stop, but he just kept barreling through the streets, barely missing other cars. Simonetti then said to the driver; “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 car flew over the bridge crossing the Potomac River and into Virginia with the taxi inspector in tow. The inspector was trying to notify police by this time, but as luck would have it, D.C.'s police communications radio went down just about the same time, so he couldn't get a hold of the cops. On the bridge, the driver narrowly missed swiping cars in this white knuckle ride.
Apparently the driver took a look at the passenger’s faces and realized they were in a state of panic due to this hair-raising ride. The driver then slowed down and stayed at the same pace as the taxi inspector, pulling over only after the inspector’s vehicle cut them off.
Simonetti and his group got another ride and made it safely to their destination, but the ride left them shaken. He couldn’t understand why the driver didn’t just stop for the taxi inspector because Simonetti and his group were a legal fare.
All the driver had to do is show the inspector his log and he would have been on his way. That's what Simonetti thought at the time, but the driver knew he was about to get a heavy fine if stopped. The inspector was pulling the car over because the Uber driver had Virginia plates and recently Uber was banned in Virginia.
The driver knew this and the reason he didn’t stop and embarked on this high-speed chase was to avoid getting a $2,000 fine. MSN suggests that incidents like this look very bad for Uber, which is a service that many business people depend on for their daily transportation needs.
That driver has been let go and an investigation into the incident is on-going. According to Ron Linton, the D.C. Taxi Commission Chairman, taxi inspectors are not allowed to engage in high-speed chases. This incident has brought into question the vetting process for hiring Uber drivers.