Pregnant Lyft driver in Arizona stabbed to death by passenger
This weekend, a pregnant woman was stabbed to death in Tempe, Arizona while working as a Lyft driver. The victim, 39-year-old Kristina Howato, was in her third trimester when she was fatally attacked by a man she had just dropped off outside an apartment complex in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The suspect has been identified as Fabian Durazo, a 20-year-old man.
Durazo is believed to have attacked Howato with a knife while she was in her vehicle, and then continued the attack after she attempted to flee. She was reached by police at around 1.15am, but medical assistance unfortunately could not reach her in time to save her. Both she and her unborn child were pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly after.
Durazo stole the vehicle after murdering the mother-to-be, but was later located thanks to a tracking device fitted in the car. He was apprehended the same day, and, in a later interview, he admitted to the slaying. He will now face two counts of first-degree murder.
Yesterday, a spokeswoman for Lyft spoke to NBC about the incident.
"We were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of this tragedy, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims," she said. "The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority."
Police, meanwhile, have expressed their shock at such a heinous incident.
"Throughout our careers as officers, we have incidents that really, really touch our hearts and stay with you throughout your careers," said Tempe Police Sgt. Ron Elcock at a news conference this week. "This is definitely one of those incidents that really is going to affect the police department for a long time, and the community will think about this for a long time."
The attack has caused considerable concern amongst ride-share drivers, especially women, who are now worried about their safety at work.
"I think if we are vetted properly and know how to use a firearm that we should be able to carry one," said Crystal Welsh, who has been working ride-share services for two months. "I would feel a lot safer."
At present, Lyft prohibits drivers from carrying guns, as does Uber.
Another ride-share driver, Britney, said that she will now be carrying "pepper spray" and "a knife" for the sake of her safety.
There are already safety measures in place for both Uber and Lyft drivers, and both apps allow users to call 911 should an emergency arrive. They also give the option to share one's location with law enforcement, which is helpful for responding to crime, but evidently not good enough for preventing it.
Durazo and Howato are not believed to have known each other previously, and law enforcement are treating the incident as a random attack.
Kristina Howato is survived by her two children, aged four and two.