ORLANDO, Fla. - The family of a 12-year-old girl who took an Uber in the middle of the night and then jumped off a downtown parking garage near Orlando City Hall said their daughter's death could have been prevented if the driver followed Uber's policy not to provide rides to minors.
Attorney Laura Douglas, with NeJame Law, said Benita "BB" Diamond downloaded the Uber app on her mother's phone overnight on Jan. 10 while her parents were sleeping and requested a pickup at a vacant lot near their Lake Nona home.
The driver picked Diamond up before sunrise and dropped her off 20 miles from her home near Orlando City Hall, attorneys said. Douglas said the driver never questioned Diamond's age, her unusual pickup location or her destination.
"I was surprised at how easily I got into the Uber," Diamond wrote, according to the family. "I guess I was expecting more of a hassle."
The family's attorney said someone called 911 after finding Diamond's polka dot backpack in the parking garage stairwell on the morning after 9 a.m. and then seeing her body on the ground below.
On Jan. 10 at 9:35 a.m., Orlando police were called to the parking garage on South Orange Ave., where the girl's body was found. Officials with the Orlando Police Department said at the time her death was an apparent suicide.
Douglas said Diamond's parents are now trying to make sure the are the last family "to suffer due to Uber's disregard for child safety."
Uber's policy states that if a "rider is underage, please do not start the trip or allow them to ride." Douglas said in a news release Uber does not enforce the age restriction and there are no penalties for driver's who transport unaccompanied minors, according to the Diamond family attorney.
News 6 contacted Uber for comment on this story.
Officials said that drivers are asked to report underage passengers and that account holders who let children ride alone risk getting banned from the app.
Diamond would have turned 13 on Feb. 27. Her family said she was "bubbly, gifted student and piano prodigy."
After her death, Diamond's parents started a website called the BB Initiative to share their daughter's artwork, music and her story.
A poem by an unknown author on the website titled "The Way I Feel" reads:
They say there is a reason,
They say that time will heal,
But neither time nor reason,
Will change the way I feel,
No-one knows the heartache,
That lies behind my smile,
No-one knows how many times,
I have broken down and cried,
I want to tell you something,
So there won’t be any doubt,
You’re so wonderful to think of,
But so hard to be without.
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