SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An Uber driver is behind bars after he allegedly kidnapped three Sacramento women and threatened to kill them.
The terrifying ordeal happened in June, and on Friday , 36-year-old Mark Filanov of Rancho Cordova was arrested by the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department.
“I’m lucky I was with two other women that night, because I don’t know what would have happened if either of us were by ourselves,” said Angela O’Neil, a passenger.
“It was all completely unreal, the whole experience seemed out of a movie,” said Katherine Vallaire a passenger.
Longtime Sacramento friends Theadora Fuerstenberg, Angela O’Neil and Katherine Vallaire recounted the terrifying night they left a housewarming and book club party in June and used Uber to get a ride home.
“Katie said we’re just three women who want to go home and he said, ‘No, that’s not it. You’re all gonna die now,’ then he took off again,” said Fuerstenberg.
The ride started in the Arden Arcade area and the destination was Oak Park. But According to the women, the driver was quiet and would not make eye contact. They say he was driving erratically on Capitol City Freeway, keeping to the left lane, not listening to their pleas to pull over, and had no intention in stopping.
“I could see his navigation app flashing warning going over 85 miles per hour,” said Fuerstenberg.
“We just wanted to get out of the car and he would not stop. Once he got past the 12th Street exit, I thought oh my God, this was not a joke, my hands were shaking he had tried to swipe at her phone when she tried to call 911,” said O’Neil.
“He swiped at my phone in my hand and I said OK, OK I put my hands on my knees and looked down and I just started crying,” said Fuerstenberg.
At one point O’Neil, who was the only passenger out of reach of the driver, crouched down to call 911. She told the dispatcher they’ve been abducted.
“I seriously thought I was gonna die or be very hurt,” she said.
Almost 30 minutes into the ride, the driver finally exited at 47th Avenue and as he slowed down, the women jumped out and ran for their lives. They ran to a nearby gas station and waited for a sheriff’s deputy to arrive. All three say they couldn’t believe they escaped.
“That night was terror and then he came back the next day, he came again because he knew where I lived,” said Fuerstenberg.
Fuerstenberg contacted Uber to leave a report. The next morning, while she was out on a run a neighbor told her: “Your friend was just here.” The driver allegedly showed up at her house the next day, but drove off. The women later secured a restraining order against Filanov.
Two months later, the three women are desperate to get their lives back and hope by sharing their story, they can alert others to be more vigilant.
“I’m just happy he’s behind bars and we’re all together,” said Vallaire.
“I definitely want justice, he needs to be held accountable,” said O’Neil.
Filanov was booked in the Sacramento County Jail and faces kidnapping charges, including making terrorist threats. He’s being held in lieu of $375,000 bail.
Meanwhile, Uber released a statement: “The disturbing behavior the riders reported will not be tolerated. We removed this driver’s access to the app shortly after we learned of the incident and stand ready to help with the investigation.”
The company says the driver had only been an Uber driver-partner for a few months and had no feedback of this nature.
Also, an Uber spokesperson says the company has an emergency button built into the app.