ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The parents of a 12-year-old girl who ordered an Uber one morning and rode alone to a destination 20 miles away to end her life held a news conference Thursday to demand that the ride-sharing app enforce its age restriction policies.
Lisha Chen and Ron Diamond said their daughter Benita Diamond was a bright, happy girl who got good grades in school, was an accomplished pianist and excelled at Brazilian jiu jitsu. Months after her death, her parents still don't know why she jumped off a parking garage in downtown Orlando the morning of Jan. 10.
However, one thing they're confident of is that an Uber driver never should have picked up their daughter from a lot near their home when it was still dark out without ever asking for her age, her ID or to speak with her parents.
"In my daughter's case, she rode by herself and the Uber driver, who did not follow the policy at all, did not ask any question about her age," Chen said.
Uber policy requires that account holders be at least 18 years old and that drivers decline to pick up a passenger who can't prove they are an adult, but Chen said there are no consequences outlined for drivers who break that rule.
She said Benita had made an Uber account days earlier. Since her parents set a lock on her phone during the late night and early morning hours, she took her mom's phone on Jan. 10 and downloaded the app, using a gift card as the form of payment.
Diamond said Benita wrote in her final note that she was surprised by how easy it was to get a ride via Uber.
"In her letter she said ... that she thought she would get more hassle getting an uber ride. The second thing she said is basically that 'I'm past the point of no return now,'" Diamond said. "Uber took my daughter past the point of no return, they drove her there."
Both parents said that if Benita had been turned away, maybe it would have given them the opportunity to notice any red flags.
"Sadly, I lost my chance to save her and she will not be the last one, unfortunately," Chen said.
The family's attorney sent a demand letter to Uber but has not filed any kind of lawsuit. Company officials said they are investigating the claims and will take appropriate action.
Crisis counselors at locally operated centers across the U.S. are available 24 hours a day through The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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