Around 13:00 on August 24, a 20-year-old woman was reported missing after hitching a ride using DiDi to go from Yueqing City to Yongjia County in Wenzhou. Hours later, in the early morning on August 25, police arrested the suspect responsible for the woman’s disappearance, the 27-year-old driver from Sichuan, who has admitted to raping and murdering the woman.
A friend of the victim recounted the details of the missing case on Weibo on August 25.
The girl, whose surname is Zhao, booked a ride at around 13:30 on August 24 in Yueqing. The ride normally takes about an hour and 10 minutes under regular driving conditions. However, instead of taking the regular routes, the driver drove into the mountain area.
At around 14:10, Zhao sent a message to her friend on WeChat, saying that “there are no other cars here in the mountains. I’m a little worried”. A few minutes later, Zhao called another friend for help, but to no avail. Shortly after, it was reported that Zhao’s friends lost contact with her because her phone had been switched off.
According to sources, Zhao was on her way to a friend’s birthday party. She actually booked a ride hitching service, but there was no one else in the car during that time.
“After failing to get a reply from Zhao after multiple attempts, I turned to DiDi’s Customer Service. It was around 15:42 then. After clarifying the incident, DiDi said that “security experts will intervene to handle the case and will reply within an hour.” Zhao’s friend wrote on Weibo.
“Due to the urgency of the situation, I kept confirming the progress with DiDi every few minutes. I called them for as many as seven times from 15:42 to 16:42, but all I got were standard responses such as: “The customer service department isn’t authorized”, “Please wait patiently. We have already reported your feedback as urgent and marked it code red.”
At around 17:30, Zhao’s family called the police.
It was not until the evening of the same day that DiDi informed local police of the driver’s specific personal information and license plate. The police suspected the driver of committing a crime and immediately launched an investigation.
At 4:00 in the morning on August 25th, police arrested the suspect, Zhong, who has admitted to raping and murdering Zhao, and dumping the body off the cliff of the mountains. The police and rescuers later found Zhao’s body in the mountainous area nearby.
On the afternoon of August 25, DiDi issued an apology statement on Weibo for the murder case, in which they said they were “filled with grief” over the violent crime that has taken place. According to DiDi, ‘‘We promise that regardless of whether the DiDi platform is legally responsible and how much responsibility should be shouldered, all criminal cases occurring in the future with regards to the use of our platform will be compensated three times in accordance with the personal injury compensation standard stipulated by law.”
On August 26, DiDi issued another statement which said “A nation-wide suspension of the ride-hitching service where this incident happened will go into effect on August 27 at 0:00, followed by a re-evaluation of the service’s business model and operational logic.” At the same time, DiDi announced that two executives were removed from their posts following the incident. The two executives were General Manager of the ride-hitching department Huang Jieli and Vice President for Customer Services, Huang Jinhong.
After the case of rape and murder on a hitch ride that occurred three months ago, DiDi published a safety enhancement plan on May 16, which include working with law enforcement authorities to conduct strict background checks on drivers. DiDi also stated that it would bear all relevant responsibilities regarding safety incidents including traffic accidents and criminal cases going forward.