HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – Lowcountry officials are looking for a man who allegedly drove two women to an isolated location after they mistook him for their Uber driver.
The women told the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) they arranged for an Uber ride from Reilley’s Plaza on Hilton Head Island just after midnight on Friday and waited outside for the driver to arrive.
As they were waiting, a man drove up in a dark-colored SUV with what the women thought was an Uber sign on his windshield. BCSO says the women were aware the driver wasn’t the one they requested, but they asked for a ride to their vacation rental on the south end of the island.
“Realizing it wasn’t their vehicle they had canceled their original Uber ride, so they are aware it was not their Uber, but they were looking for a ride home,” BCSO Major Bob Bromage explained. “They were on vacation here so they didn’t really know the area well.”
Nothing seemed wrong at first, but when the man drove onto Mitchellville Road, they realized the area did not look familiar and felt that something was wrong.
“It was dark and nowhere near their hotel. One of them tried calling 911—that’s when the man snatched her phone,” Bromage said, adding that the women were able to get out of the vehicle and wrestle their phone back.
“It could have ended up very bad,” he said.
The women called 911 and deputies arrived within minutes, but they were not able to locate the SUV or the driver.
“We are not sure where he is but we are looking for information from the public on who it might be and we are asking him to come forward and let us know what happened,” Bromage said.
The women said the man had a dark complexion and was possibly Hispanic or Indian. He is approximately 5’03” tall, with a medium build and dark hair.
The women could only describe the SUV as black or dark colored with three rows of seats, similar to a Chevrolet Suburban.
News 3 spoke with some who say people should be using much more than a sticker to verify their rideshare.
“My employees came up to me the other day after this happened and said you could buy an Uber sticker on the internet for 10 dollars,” said Tom Reilley, partner at Reilley’s Grill and Bar. “This is not a Reilly’s problem or anybody else’s problem this is a people problem.”
The incident comes just a few months after the state house passed a bill requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to display lighted signs on their cars. It’s all in an effort to ensure safety for all parties involved.
“Anytime a rider takes a ride that’s not in the app, they take away the liability coverage that’s provided to them by rideshare companies,” said Anton Wilson, Uber driver. “I think this is one of those situations where they probably could have put themselves or family members in harm.”
BCSO isn’t sure what the man’s intentions were, but they want to remind people to never get in a rideshare unless the driver and car information matches what’s on the app.
Anyone who may have seen the man driving a black or dark-colored SUV through Reilley’s Plaza or who may know his identity is asked to contact Sergeant Seth Reynells at 843-255-3709.