Uber driver helps police find missing Jacksonville girls

2 girls left home before midnight after argument with family member

By Jim Piggott - Reporter, Mary Baer - 5, 6 & 10 p.m. anchor, Jason Mealey - Producer/assignment editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An alert Uber driver is being credited with helping police find two Jacksonville girls who left their Westside home just before midnight Thursday after getting into an argument with a family member.

Police said the girls, ages 9 and 13, took an Uber ride somewhere, but because they didn't know where, the Sheriff’s Office issued a missing child alert overnight. Police said that when the Uber driver saw their photos on social media later, he showed officers where he had dropped the girls off across town.

News4Jax stopped naming the girls and showing their photographs after they were found.

Uber has rules on who can use its app and requires unaccompanied minors to be with an adult. The driver can ask for ID and decline to offer a ride if they believe there is a problem.

The family at the home where the girls were missing did not want to talk about the incident, but a family member at another site said the girls did not order the Uber themselves, and it was done by someone else. On Friday, the girls' mother told News4Jax that she was grateful the Uber driver helped, but said she can't figure out why the driver picked up the girls, who she said look young, around midnight on a street near a Walmart that was closed.

News4Jax is working to find out if an adult ordered the Uber and then rode with the driver to go pick the girls up.

It is still unclear if company policy was broken because an adult might have been with the girls. Uber has not replied to an inquiry asking to get a clarification on the policy and if procedures were followed in this case.

The girls' mother said she went through 11 hours of panic and wants to know who is following up on this. 

The girls' mother said of her daughters, "I just hope they realize the danger they were in."

Crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said this case points out some problems with ride-sharing and who can use it.

“It did happen. It’s not unlawful. It’s just a violation of Uber‘s policy, and it’s also dangerous for those kids,” Jefferson said.

Police thanked everyone who helped spread the word about the missing children, which helped authorities locate them quickly.

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