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Uber Driver Accused Of Kidnapping 19-Year-Old Rider

BEND, OR -- A local Uber driver is accused of taking a customer on a ride she didn’t agree to. According to Bend Police, the 19-year-old victim ordered a ride Tuesday evening, just before 6:30 p.m. "The driver picked her up to drive her to her home, which is about five minutes away," says Bend PD's Sheila Miller, "The driver, about three minutes into the ride, canceled the ride, and then drove her around the city of Bend for about 25-30 minutes, despite her requests that he take her home." Miller tells KBND News, "He did drop her off at her home after about a half an hour."

The victim called police at about 9 p.m. and they found the car two hours later, along with the driver, identified as 48-year-old Rocky Heath, of La Pine. "Our officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle he was driving downtown. Our officers arrested him and took him to jail on suspicion of second degree kidnapping, as well as suspicion of second degree disorderly conduct." Heath was ordered not to drive for a rideshare service while he’s out on bail. He’s due back in court in a month.

Heath doesn’t have a criminal history and it’s unknown if there are other victims, "This particular incident remains under investigation. And if other people have had similar experiences, they’re encouraged to call non-emergency dispatch."

Miller says there are a few safety steps every rideshare user should take, "It’s always important to be alert and aware of your surroundings. Verify the driver, verify the vehicle when you get in. Not that there’s any indication that this woman did not do that, but that’s a step that you can always take. If you can ride with more than one person, that’s always a good idea." She adds, "This is one of those services that a lot of us use on a regular basis, and it does require a level of trust in the business and the people who are involved in the business."

It's unclear how long Heath has driven for Uber. KBND News reached out to the company for comment, and received this statement: “What’s been reported by the rider is unsettling and unacceptable. We removed the driver’s access to the Uber platform as we investigate and have reached out to law enforcement to offer our assistance.” The company says it takes reports of this nature very seriously and urges riders to call or text 911 in an emergency. Uber can record audio of rides, to be accessed if a safety incident is reported. Learn more HERE. It's unclear if that audio exists in this incident. 

 

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