Three women survived an Uber ride from hell after their driver began babbling nonsense and threatened to kill them, according to local police.
Mark Filanov, 36, was arrested last week on a warrant for allegedly refusing to let the three friends out of his car after he picked them up via Uber, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
The nightmare ride began June 15, when Filanov picked up the trio as they left a book club in south Sacramento, staying silent as he drove them onto the Interstate 80, the women told KCRA 4 Sacramento.
His demeanor soon changed, however, according to Theodora Fuerstenberg, one of the alleged victims who spoke with the local news station.
Instead of continuing the ride, Filanov pointed his car at the cement divider on the highway and asked “which way,” Fuerstenberg said.
"He knew. We all said, 'left,'” she said. “He made us basically scream 'left' at him."
Filanov then began to speed down the highway, passing numerous exits as the women began to fear for their lives, Fuerstenberg said in the interview.
Then things started to get even weirder.
According to Fuerstenberg, Filanov turned to the three women and demanded that they “tell [him] the real story,” she said. When her friend begged him to just let them go home, Filanov became enraged, she told KCRA 4.
"He said, 'No, that's not the real story. We're all going to die now,’” she told the news station.
Fuerstenberg told the Sacramento Bee she repeatedly tried to call 911, but every time she would look at her phone, an angry Filanov would swat the phone out of her hand.
One of the other women, sitting in the back seat behind Filanov and out of his eyesight managed to call 911, according to the Sacramento Bee.
As she begged the police to rescue them, Filanov demanded she be quiet, Fuerstenberg said.
“Shut up with your fake tears,” he barked, according to the Bee.
The ordeal finally ended when Filanov pulled off the highway and was forced to stop at a red light, at which point the three friends immediately leapt from the car and tried to take shelter in a gas station that had just closed, prompting Filanov to screech off, Fuerstenberg told the Bee.
But Filanov may not have been done tormenting the women, according to the Bee.
The next morning, when Fuerstenberg went out for her morning run, a neighbor told her that someone had arrived looking for her, and described a man fitting Filanov’s appearance, she told the Bee. When she got inside and peered out the window, she saw a driver sitting in a car identical to the Uber driver from the night before, she told the newspaper.
Filanov was finally arrested on a warrant on Aug. 17 and, after being charged with kidnapping, was ordered held on $375,000 bail, according to jail records. He is due back in court on Thursday.
In a statement to KCRA 4 Sacramento, a representative for Uber said Filanov’s behavior was unacceptable.
"The disturbing behavior the riders reported will not be tolerated,” the company said. “We removed this driver's access to the app shortly after we learned of the incident and stand ready to help with the investigation."
[Photo: Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department]