The driver, later identified as 30-year-old Jason Humberto Rodas, suddenly cancelled the trip while en route to the woman’s work place and turned off the Uber app, telling her the ride would be free of charge
A California Uber driver was arrested after he allegedly choked and sexually assaulted a female passenger as she attempted to flee his vehicle during an early morning trip in Santa Ana, police said.
The incident occurred just after 4:00am Wednesday, when the 51-year-old victim hailed an Uber to take her to work.
The driver, later identified as 30-year-old Jason Humberto Rodas, suddenly cancelled the trip while en route to the woman’s work place and turned off the Uber app, telling her the ride would be free of charge.
Rodas then allegedly began asking the victim questions about her sex life, making the passenger uncomfortable and frightened, Santa Ana PD said.
As Rodas continued to question her, she demanded him to stop and take her to work.
The suspect ignored the woman’s pleas and refused to stop his car. Rodas threatened to throw the victim out of the vehicle if she called police.
He began driving erratically until eventually coming to a stop in the 300 block of South Minnie Street.
It was at this moment that the victim jumped out of the vehicle in an attempt to escape, but Rodas ‘quickly caught her,’ police said.
Rodas then reportedly place the victim in a chokehold and strangled her, before sexually assaulting her.
The suspect ignored the woman’s please and refused to stop his car. He began driving erratically until eventually coming to a stop in the 300 block of South Minnie Street
A security guard at a nearby business heard the woman’s screams and ran over to help, according to police.
Rodas took off but was arrested hours after the incident based on evidence found at the scene, police said.
Detectives said they used security tape, the license plate of the vehicle, and the driver’s name on the Uber app to find Rodas.
‘She’s lucky,’ Brian Ruiz, who lives in the area, told CBS of the victim. ‘Once it gets dark, you start seeing a bunch of people just come out — random people come out of their hiding spots. If the suspect would have not done anything to her…then someone else could have probably done something to her.’
Police later served a search warrant at Rodas’ Garden Grove home to secure additional evidence.
Rodas was booked on suspicion of several sexual assault charges, including kidnapping with the intent to commit rape.
He is currently being held at the Santa Ana Jail, with his bail set at $1 million.
In a statement, Uber described the incident as ‘horrific and something no one should have to experience
Santa Ana Police Department Detectives said they believe Rodas may have committed other crimes due to his actions.
‘This individual was brazen in his in his act,’ Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertanga said. ‘I mean, he chased her. He choked her out to where she passed out.’
Court records show Rodas has a criminal history, including domestic violence with a restraining order against him.
In a statement, Uber described the incident as ‘horrific and something no one should have to experience.
‘We stand ready to cooperate with law enforcement and appreciate their swift investigation,’ the company said.
Detectives are asking for anyone with information to contact Detective Julio Gallardo at 714-245-8378, [email protected] or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.