Lifestyle

Uber driver takes riders on high-speed chase, with taxi inspector in hot pursuit

Washington DC Doug Kerr Flickr
Image Credit: Doug Kerr/Flickr

How would you like to be kidnapped in the back of an Uber car and taken on a high-speed chase through busy D.C. streets?

That’s the experience Ryan Simonetti, chief executive of Convene, claims he had Tuesday after ordering up a ride from popular car service Uber.

An Uber driver In Washington D.C. allegedly kept Simonetti and two friends imprisoned in his car throughout a wild 10-minute chase by a taxi inspector.

During the harrowing ordeal through the streets of D.C., the Uber driver nearly plowed into multiple cars in an attempt to evade the clutches of the taxi inspector, Simonetti claims. Simonetti says he ripped off the driver’s pant leg in a desperate bid to stop the mayhem, according to the Washington Post.

An Uber spokesperson confirmed the details to the Post and, declining to name the driver, said the person had been terminated. A spokesperson for the Washington D.C. Taxicab Commission said it is investigating the incident. I put in emails and calls to both and hope to hear back. Simonetti tweeted this after the ordeal:

“Was just kidnapped by an driver in DC, held against my will, and involved in a high speed chase across state lines with police

And he told the Post Wednesday: “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 calamity began about 1:00 p.m. on Monday. Simonetti was in the area with two colleagues on a business trip. Using the Uber app, the trio vectored for a car near the city’s Verizon Center for a ride to Convene’s offices in the Tysons Corner neighborhood.

“I use Uber everywhere I go. I travel all over the country, wherever I go I use Uber. I’m a diehard Uber fan,” Simonetti told the Post.

Before the Uber driver pulled away from the curb, Simonetti noticed a taxi inspector on foot near the Uber car. The Uber driver then sped quickly away, and the inspector, with lights flashing, followed at a high rate of speed. The chase was on. Simonetti said the ordeal was straight from an episode of Cops.

After 10 minutes, the inspector managed to block the Uber ride with his own car, and Simonetti and his friends used the opportunity to flee. The Uber driver turned around and headed up an off-ramp going the wrong way. The driver then fled in the direction of Virginia.

Neville Waters, a spokesman for the D.C. Taxicab Commission, confirmed Tuesday’s incident and said there’s now an investigation underway. A spokesperson for Uber told the Post the driver had been “de-activated” pending an internal investigation.

“Rider safety is our number one priority,” the spokesperson said.

Simonetti, who originally hails from New Jersey, openly questioned whether Uber drivers were being properly vetted.