An alert Uber driver in Sacramento, California is being credited with saving a 16-year-old girl from an alleged underaged sex-trafficking ring.
Keith Avila told NBC News in an interview Friday night that he was out making his Uber rounds like usual back on December 26 when he received an alert to pick up three women from a hotel in Elk Grove, CA. Avila said he noticed almost immediately something was wrong because one of the three women looked much younger and was dressed in a very short skirt. Additionally, Aliva claims the other two women allegedly spoke freely during the ride about getting the younger girl to her “John.”
Avila dropped off the three passengers at their location and immediately dialed 911 to report what he said he witnessed during the car ride. He then started to film the aftermath and police arrival on Facebook Live:
The Facebook Live post has reached nearly a quarter-million views as of as early of Saturday afternoon.
LawNewz.com received a statement from Elk Grove Public Information Officer Christopher Trim on Saturday in which he expressed the department’s gratitude that Mr. Avila decided to follow his gut and call police.
“The Elk Grove Police Department is very grateful to the Uber driver for getting involved and making a difference,” Trim said. “[Mr. Avila] could’ve said nothing, went on his way and collected his fare. But, by becoming involved and reporting the suspicious activity, we were able to rescue the 16-year-old victim who was being manipulated by the suspects.”
Avila’s call enabled police to speed to the scene where they arrested the two older women, identified as Destiny Pettway, 25, and Maria Westley, 31. Both women were charged with pimping and pandering, and a judge set their bail at $500,000, each.
Additionally, the alert Uber driver’s call led to rescue the alleged teen trafficking victim, reportedly found inside a hotel room with a 20-year-old woman named Disney Vang.
Police initially arrested Vang on suspicion of sexual activity with a minor and has since been released form custody.
Investigators say the alleged victim is a runaway who told cops she was living in an “alternative housing situation” because her parents had apparently abandoned her.
Avila told NBC News the incident was totally unexpected and he never imagined being caught in the middle of something so terrible.
“The worst thing I thought would happen when driving Uber is that I would be getting drunk passengers and I would have to handle them,” he said. “All my life, I thought about people throwing up in the car as the worst scenario.”
[image via screengrab]