A 37-year-old Uber driver was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a female passenger in Orange County. According to a KABC news report, Santa Ana police who arrested Angel Sanchez at his Costa Mesa home, believe there may be more victims who haven’t yet come forward. The woman, whose name was not released, requested the Uber ride to her house and was picked up by Sanchez in a gray 2016 Toyota Sienna. Santa Ana police said the assault took place inside the van near the victim’s destination after the driver pulled over to the side of the road.
The woman had reportedly fallen asleep and woke up being sexually assaulted. She was able to fight and break free and immediately called Santa Ana police, officials said. Sanchez has been an Uber driver for more than a year. He was booked into Santa Ana jail on sexual assault charges. Uber released a statement saying Sanchez has been banned from driving for Uber again. Anyone who has information about other inappropriate behavior by Sanchez is asked to contact Santa Ana police at 714-245-8412.
Incidents Involving Rideshare Drivers
According to the website whosdrivingyou.org, based on media reports, there were 219 sexual assaults involving Uber and Lyft drivers between July 2013 and now, including this incident in Orange County. Uber claims to do background checks of its drivers. However, there have been a number of reports of sexual and physical assaults involving Uber and Lyft drivers. There are also a number of lawsuits pending against Uber over these types of assaults.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Here are a few safety tips if you plan on using Uber or another rideshare service:
- Never ride upfront regardless of what the driver says. According to reports, passengers who ride upfront, especially women, have found themselves on the receiving end of assaults, groping and other aggressive, unwanted behavior.
- Wait inside your house of business until the driver arrives. The Uber app automatically finds your location to provide door-to-door service. That means you stay safe and comfortable wherever you are until your driver arrives. Do not wait alone on the curb or in an alley where you may be exposed to danger.
- Don’t take Uber or any rideshare service if you are drunk. This may be hard to do because you may need an Uber when you are intoxicated and don’t want to drive. However, things can get out of hand very quickly especially for women when too much alcohol has been consumed.
- Try to ride with a friend whenever possible.
- Make sure that your driver is the right one. Confirm your driver’s car model and license plate number through the app before getting into any vehicle.