The quick thinking of an Uber driver in his second month on the job helped police save a 16-year-old girl and led to the arrests of two women on pimping and pandering charges.
In a drive that took less than 15 minutes, Uber driver Keith Avila first noticed the girl in the front seat — who he took for 12 years old —was wearing a very short skirt that did not seem age appropriate, he told KCRA in Sacramento.
Then the conversation between the two women in the backseat tipped him off further, he said.
“First thing you want to do is ask: Do you have any weapons? When you’re hugging him, just ask, do you have any weapons? Pat him down. Pat him down while you’re hugging him. Get the donation, first. Before you start touching him, going in there, get the donation first,” Avila said the women in the backseat told the girl.
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“We need to make this money. We need to make this money,” Avila told CBS Sacramento.
Avila said he dropped his three passengers off at a hotel and then called police. Elk Grove police credited him with the tip that led to the arrests of Destiny Tenaya Pettway, 25, and Maria Westley, 31. Both are from Sacramento.
The girl in the front seat is a 16-year-old who had been reported as a missing person, the Sacramento Bee reported.
“I looked at her in the eyes. She had this face of innocence, and like insecure,” Avila told Fox 40 in Sacramento.
Officers went to the hotel in the 9100 block of West Stockton Boulevard about 7:45 p.m. Monday, detaining Pettway and Westley outside, according to police. Officers found Disney Vang, 20, inside a hotel room with the 16-year-old, according to Elk Grove police. Authorities suspect Pettway and Vang arranged for the teen to meet Vang.
Pettway faces felony counts of unlawfully causing a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, pimping a minor and threatening or encouraging a minor 16 or older to engage in prostitution. The victim was taken to an alternative housing location, police reported.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Jaime Roman delayed Pettway’s arraignment until January to provide her time to hire a private attorney. She remains held in Sacramento County Main Jail in lieu of $530,000 bail, according to jail records.
Westley, who faces the same felonies as Pettway along with misdemeanor charges connected to an earlier warrant, remains held in Sacramento County Main Jail in lieu of $510,500 bail pending the Jan. 5 court date.
Vang, who police suspected of having been engaged in unlawful sexual activity with the teen, was arrested and booked into Sacramento County Main Jail. Jail records show Vang was released from custody Tuesday.