Flight Attendant Killed after Hitching a Ride on DiDi-Chuxing

On the evening of May 5th, a 21-year-old flight attendant named Li Mingzhu from Lucky Air, a Chinese low-cost carrier, was killed after she booked a ride via DiDi-Chuxing as she left the airport for a train station in Zhengzhou on Saturday night. The feature she used on DiDi is called “hitch”, an exclusively Chinese feature where riders are paired with average car-owners who have also posted a similar starting location and destination, leaving around the same time.

At around 11 o’clock that evening, Li told a colleague through WeChat soon after she entered the car that the driver said she was beautiful and wanted to kiss her, according to a report by Beijing News.

Li Mingzhu

On the evening of May 10, 2018, DiDi released a photo and personal information of a driver named Liu Zhenhua, asking for the pubic’s help to find this man. The information shows that Liu was born in 1991, and his cell phone number is from Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province. A person close to the case told reporter that Liu Zhenhua is indeed the driver who picked up the victim from the airport on the night of her dissappearance. DiDi promises up to 1 million yuan ($157,895) for important tips and clues.

The victim’s father, Mr. Li, said in an interview that his daughter booked an 1 a.m. train from Zhengzhou to Ji’nan to attend the wedding of a relative on May 6. At 8 a.m. on May 6, no one was there when Mr. Li went to pick his daughter up and he could not reach her by phone either. It was not until 4 p.m. on May 7 that he reported her missing to the police. On 8 a.m. on May 8th, her body was found by the police on a hill in Zhengzhou. Mr. Li suspects that her daughter was rape and then murdered because apparently his daughter’s lower body was naked and there was a knife at the scene.

On May 11th, DiDi announces the progress of their internal investigation is posted below, and that the hitch feature will be suspended nationwide for a week for rectification. Here is the official statement from DiDi.

Our investigation found out that the driver account belongs to the suspect’s father who has passed the full verification process, criminal background screening, the facial recognition before taking the first order, and other security measures. The suspect borrowed his parent’s account to take orders in violation of terms of our services.

Meanwhile, our original night safety mechanism was defective so that the night mode face recognition mechanism was not triggered before the driver took the order.

In addition, before the incident, this account had one complaint of verbal sexual harassment against him. The customer service failed to reach the suspect after trying five times. Due to the imperfection of the arbitration rules of the platform, the complaint was not handled properly in subsequent days.

In response to the above issues, we decide to take the following self-inspection and rectification measures:

1. DiDi will suspend the Hitch service for a week nationwide for self-inspection and rectification starting at 12A.M. May 12th.

2. DiDi will thoroughly review the drivers across all verticals to exclude any cases involving mismatch of drivers and vehicles.

3. DiDi will completely review and reform the operational and customer service systems.

We apologize again to the family of the victim and the public. Thank you for all forms of supervision and assistance. We will disclose detailed progress of our review and reform programs in the near future.