How to stay safe in a stranger’s car

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – For the last year and a half, driving strangers around town has been routine for Brent Bredhold. He usually works in the evening, driving people home from bars after many have had their fill of alcohol.

But one bad apple may be giving him and other drivers a bad name.

“Unfortunately, you can’t really trust anybody at this point anymore,” Bredhold said.

Evansville Police arrested Marshall Savage Banks this week. He is an Uber driver accused of raping a woman on her way home from the bar in December 2018.

According to police, the victim’s friends said she was too drunk to drive, so they ordered an Uber.

When they went to her apartment later, she wasn’t there. The victim told police her Uber driver took her to the wrong building and raped her.

Police say DNA taken from the victim in a rape kit matches Banks’ DNA.

Marshall Savage Banks

Evansville Police Capt. Andy Chandler says this alleged crime is especially tragic because the victim’s friends did everything you’re supposed to do.

“You make that call, you believe the person’s going to do the right thing, you get into that vehicle believing it, all the checks are there,” he said.

Uber and Lyft apps have personal information on the driver built in, so you can match the driver’s photo, a description of the car, and the license plate, but that still may not be enough.

Chandler says you can’t always predict what people will do. “I really can’t fault what the victim’s friends did,” he said.

According to police, when they went to speak to Banks about the alleged incident, he began crying and throwing up, and dry heaving.

Banks told police the victim tried to do things to him and climbed into the front seat, talking vulgar to him. He also told police he didn’t touch her or do anything to her that would show up in a sexual assault kit.

There are extra steps you can take to keep yourself safe in a stranger’s car. Have your phone on, in a conversation with someone during your ride. The apps also have real-time GPS tracking, so a loved one can keep an eye on you.

Uber encourages those who want to be extra-safe to ride in the back seat, that way you have an exit on both sides of the car if something goes wrong.

“You let people into your personal vehicle, so you have to have a little bit of trust in them, but most than anything they have to have trust in you that you’re not going to take advantage of them,” Bredhold said.

There is power in numbers, so whenever you can try to ride with a friend for an extra set of eyes.

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This story was originally published on July 3, 2019

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