LAS VEGAS (KTNV/CNN) – After a traumatic experience during which she says she was robbed and kidnapped by a fake Uber driver, a woman is recovering from injuries she sustained when she jumped out of the car to escape.
The alleged incident began on a mid-July night at the Park MGM hotel and casino in Las Vegas when Elizabeth 'Liz' Suarez booked an Uber to take her home after a night out with a childhood friend.
"So, I get the notification from my phone saying that the Uber is arriving soon, so I head out to the valet," Suarez said.
She soon saw a car matching the description on the app.
"He gestures over to me. I open the car door and say, 'Hi, are you here for Liz?' And he says, 'Yeah, get in,'" Suarez said.
Suarez didn't realize the man wasn't her ride until they were on the road, and she got a call from the real Uber driver, who was looking for her outside the hotel.
"My heart sank because I knew I was in the wrong car. I have no idea who this guy is. I'm in trouble," Suarez said.
Frightened and not wanting to spook the man behind the wheel, she told the real Uber driver that everything was OK and hung up. Then, she tried to get the fake driver to let her out.
"I'm just thinking airport, just a lit area, even a gas station. I don't care. I just said, 'Sir, anywhere is fine. You can just drop me off here,'" Suarez said.
Suarez said the driver ignored her and kept going.
Afraid of what the driver might do if he heard her on the phone, she did not call police, but she did post a message about the incident on her Snapchat story, hoping to silently alert friends she was in trouble
"And I thought, 'Well if, he's gonna kidnap me, what, you know, rape, kill me? Anything.' All these thoughts are going in my head, and you freeze. I froze," she said.
Finally, the driver pulled into a shopping center, just as Suarez took a picture of him.
"My flash goes off, startles him and that's when he starts cursing: 'Give me your wallet. Give me your phone. Give me everything you have,'" Suarez said.
She threw her wallet at him but kept her phone.
Then, the driver sped up again.
"And that's when I open the car door and it's unlocked, and I just jump out without thinking," Suarez said.
Suarez suffered a head injury, fractured wrist and badly broken ankle. She is facing a lengthy recovery process.
"It's been traumatic, to say the least," she said.
A crime and safety expert called Suarez’s act of desperation brave but said she should have called 911 while still in the car. Even if operators were just listening to a one-sided conversation, he said they'd likely have been able to figure out there was a crime in progress.
He also said she should have attempted to raise a red flag when the real Uber driver called, so he could've potentially alerted police.
But Suarez said police weren't helpful at first, asking questions about her instead of the driver.
"'Why was I out so late? Why was I alone?' I had to hire my attorney because I was afraid they were going to drop my case," Suarez said.
Suarez's attorney Neal Hyman sent a written request for further investigation. He says the detectives, some of whom have been newly placed on the case, are starting to take the incident more seriously. He also noted multiple errors in the police narrative.
Suarez says her biggest concern is that robbery is the only crime listed in the report. She believes kidnapping should also be mentioned.
"Once he did rob me, he continued to drive away with me. I only got out because I jumped out," she said.
The crime remains unsolved as Suarez recovers.
"I say that he broke some bones, but he didn't break my spirit. I'm here and I'm here to tell my story, and I'm doing it to warn other girls," she said.
Uber urges all riders to follow their safety guidelines. They say before you get in any car, make sure the vehicle and license plate number match the information in the app, verify the driver's name and picture and always ask the driver, "Who are you here for?"
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