HOUSTON - Houston police are now investigating whether a Lyft driver attempted to kidnap one of his female passengers.
Jeanette Mitchell said after she dropped off her daughter at school in southwest Houston Tuesday morning, her car had stopped working. She said her boyfriend, who works as a mobile mechanic, advised her to leave her car at the school and he would address the issue later.
Mitchell said she then booked a Lyft to work around 8:30 a.m. and a red Toyota Corolla came to pick her up.
Midway through her Lyft ride from her daughter’s school to work, Mitchell said she realized her driver had not been following the GPS’s intended route.
She claims her driver veered off the main road and began driving down the 8600 block of Lapin Street then suddenly stopped behind a truck parked in front of an abandoned warehouse.
Mitchell said the driver was not responding to her questions.
“I was afraid. I was terrified and I didn’t know what to do,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell said another man then stepped out of the truck and began unlocking the gate.
“He puts the key in and unlocks the chain and signals to the other guy to drive in. And I was like wait, what are you doing? So at that time I got out the car and I started to run,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell added that the man in the truck laughed and yelled after her when she ran, but her driver never said anything.
Mitchell said she believed she was in danger and followed her gut instinct to flee before it was too late. She said she ran down a few blocks away to a gas station on Richmond and Dunvale Street and called police.
“Whatever they may have been trying to do that day, it had nothing to do with bringing me to work. If you had something to do in between my ride to work, you shouldn’t have involved me because it made me feel unsafe,” Mitchell said.
Houston Police said the Lyft driver is described as an Indian or Arabic man in his 40s and the suspect in the truck is described as an African American man in his 30s.
Mitchell first shared her experience in a Facebook video, hoping to warn others. The video has since gone viral and has been shared thousands of times online.
Mitchell said she has received a lot of backlash from other users who are questioning her story. She’s now defending what she believes was a suspicious situation.
“I have better things to do than create this story for a viral video. I have a family and a job. I am asthmatic. Why would I run in 30-degree weather to make this up?” Mitchell said.
A spokesperson with the rideshare company says they have deactivated the driver’s account as they work with police to find out what happened.
Lyft said they conduct criminal background checks and pull the driving records of all drivers before they are allowed to drive on the platform.
In a statement Lyft said, “"This allegation is deeply disturbing and not tolerated on the Lyft platform. The safety of our community is fundamental to Lyft, and we have deactivated the driver while we investigate this incident. We have been in touch with the passenger and stand by ready to assist law enforcement with any investigation."