Early one morning last summer, an Uber driver pulled in front of a Humboldt Park home to pick up a passenger. But the man who ordered the ride never came out. Someone shot him to death inside the house moments after he hailed the Uber on his phone.
Instead, the driver says, a masked man — possibly the murderer — ran out of the home, pointed a gun in his face, and hijacked the neon green Kia Soul he rented from Uber’s vehicle leasing partner, Hertz. Cops later found the car wrapped around a fire hydrant about four miles away.
As if all of that weren’t tragic and outrageous enough, Hertz is now billing the driver more than $6,100 for damage to the carjacked Kia.
It’s an incredible story that gets even stranger and more unbelievable as it goes on. We’ve changed the Uber driver’s name to protect his identity.
June 29, 2020, was a “typical night” for David. “I was Ubering, waiting for a [passenger] at Iowa and Central Park.”
That typical night changed significantly around 12:40 a.m. when a masked man ran from the home where his would-be passenger, Joseph Gist, had just been killed. The gunman pointed his weapon at David and ordered him out of the Kia.
“It’s a rental, bro. You can have it,” David recalls saying.
Seconds later, “a bunch of cops run up. Someone just got shot.”
A hectic scene unfolded inside and outside the home where Gist was killed. Police officers declared a “10-1” police emergency, indicating that cops were in distress at the scene.
“[Gist’s] family members jumped me,” David said in an interview Sunday. “They assumed I had something to do with it.” Cops eventually separated the hysterical family from him, he said, but officers didn’t make any arrests.
David, 30, filed a carjacking report at the scene and went home. A detective called him later.
“We got your car,” the cop said. Officers found it abandoned, plowed into a hydrant on the 300 block of North Lawler, according to the CPD crash report.
“I got bills to pay”
Uber reimbursed him for some property he lost in the carjacking, including an iPad and a phone he used while driving for the company.
Chicago police initially refused to release the crashed Kia, but Hertz let him get another car three weeks after the hijacking.
“I got back to it,” he said. “I got bills to pay.”
Those bills grew substantially in October when Hertz sent him a bill for $6,091.48 in damages to the carjacked Kia and “loss of use.” That’s in addition to his $1,000 deductible, David said.
Hertz was “not responding” to his inquiries about the bill, David told us Sunday.
“I’ve been trying to reach out to Hertz over a month regarding the situation,” he said. “But no answer.”
Contacted by CWBChicago on Monday, an Uber spokesperson agreed to look into the charges. She called back and said she’s still working on it. We’ll post an update when more information becomes available.
By the way, Chicago police eventually let David claim his wrecked Kia.
He says he found something extra inside the car when he picked it up: The mask that the potential murderer wore during the carjacking was lying on his driver’s seat. Police never collected it as evidence.