A heartbroken family is considering suing Uber after a non-English speaking Uber driver picked up their 12-year-old daughter late at night and took her to a parking garage in downtown Florida, where she took her own life.
Laura Douglas, the attorney representing the family of the girl, Benita Diamond, said that the girl downloaded the app on her mother’s phone late on Jan. 10 while her parents were sleeping and summoned a driver to pick her up at an empty parking lot near their house in Lake Nona.
Benita Diamond: A 12-year-old girl died by suicide after taking an Uber to an empty parking garage. Now, her family is demanding change to ride-hailing policies. – CBS News – https://t.co/l9TxxqqlfC pic.twitter.com/q4avCQpFtJ
— Rideshare News (@RideShareNews1) June 8, 2019
She was picked up amidst darkness by the Uber driver, who drove her 20 miles away to the garage, Douglas said in a press release obtained by WKMG. The driver did not inquire for Benita’s age, why she was being picked up at a vacant parking lot, or why she was heading to Orlando in the middle of the night.
“I was surprised at how easily I got into the Uber,” Benita wrote, according to the family. “I guess I was expecting more of a hassle.”
— WESH 2 News (@WESH) June 7, 2019
A passerby noticed Benita’s backpack on some stairs in the parking lot, and then found her body on the ground.
Benita’s parents, Ron Diamond and Lisha Chen, never allowed her to travel on her own, the Uber policy forbids minors to utilize their app or get a ride unless accompanied by an adult, Douglas said, however, “zero effort is made to enforce the age restriction, much less assist drivers in doing so,” and doesn’t penalize drivers who break the rules.
Uber’s website states: “As a driver-partner, you should decline the ride request if you believe the person requesting the ride is under 18. When picking up riders, if you feel they are underage, you may request they provide a driver’s license or ID card for confirmation. If a rider is underage, please do not start the trip or allow them to ride.”
HOW SAD! A family is demanding answers from Uber after they say their 12-year-old daughter hailed a ride in the middle of the night and then jumped off a downtown Orlando parking garage. https://t.co/DWa0EhQpCA
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) June 7, 2019
According to Fox 35, Chen told reporters at a press conference on Thursday: “I learned that the Uber driver did not speak a word of English. Not one word at all.”
“We had no clue that my daughter had ordered an Uber. We had no clue that she got into an Uber and drove to downtown. And we had a right to know where our daughter went. I think, without a doubt, that if Uber followed their policy, our daughter would still be here,” added Diamond.
“If she’d been asked, where’s your mom and dad? We believe she would’ve been here,” said Douglas, the attorney.
The broadcaster was told by Uber that they were investigating the incident and that the company, in fact, issues penalties to drivers who give rides to underage passengers, possibly suspending their access to the Uber app.
Chen said that they were taking into consideration a lawsuit with the purpose of helping other families avoid a similar misfortune, and not for the sake of obtaining money.
“This will happen to another child or teenager if I don’t do anything right now, if I don’t make sure Uber, or Lyft or any share-ride company enforces their policy,” Chen said. “They have a policy in place, but if they don’t enforce it, it’s useless.”
“Uber took my daughter past the point of no return,” Diamond added. “Nobody else did. We didn’t. Lisha didn’t. None of our family. Not you guys. Nobody. Uber took my daughter past the point of no return.”