Three months after the murder of a passenger, another ride-sharing passenger was raped and killed allegedly by a driver of Didi Hitch, a car-pooling service offered by China’s largest ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, according to a police statement released on Saturday.
The victim, a 20-year-old female passenger, surnamed Zhao, in Yueqing, eastern China's Zhejiang Province, took a Didi Hitch car on Friday afternoon. An hour later she sent a “help” text message to friends before losing contact, according to the statement Yueqing police posted on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform.
On Saturday morning, the police arrested the suspect, a 27-year-old Didi driver surnamed Zhong who admitted that he raped and killed the victim, the statement said.
Didi apologized on Saturday afternoon. "We are deeply sorry. We fell short of your expectations, and we have the inescapable responsibility," it said in a statement.
Didi said the suspect has no criminal record and he registered as a Didi driver with real documents but was using a fake car plate when committing the crime.
The company also said it "blames itself" for failing to follow and deal with a passenger's complaint about the suspect, submitted just a day before Zhao was killed.
The complaint said that the suspect drove to a remote place and followed the passenger after she got off the car, according to Didi's statement.
Right after the victim sent a "help" message, her family and friends immediately contacted Didi customer service and reported to the local police. However, Didi did not offer information about the driver to the police until several hours later, according to media reports.
Didi explained in the statement that the company could not give information about the platform's users to anyone other than police in order to protect users' privacy.
The tragedy happened only three months after a similar murder incident sparked wide public rage on the safety of the car-hailing service and the platform.
After that, the company suspended Didi Hitch for a week “for a safety overhaul,” and promised to enhance safety for Hitch and Didi's other mobility services.