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Lyft driver says she was drugged and nearly kidnapped by two men

A Lyft driver in Atlanta warns that she barely got away after she believes two men tried to drug her.
Credit: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Lyft
An Amp glows on a driver's dashboard on January 31, 2017 in San Francisco, California.

ATLANTA — An Atlanta Lyft driver said she was drugged and nearly abducted by two men but was able to keep her wits about her and get away. 

She wants to make sure that others are not taken advantage of by what some people have called the "world's most dangerous drug."

A rideshare driver picked up two men and began driving, but suddenly, she said she started to feel light-headed and short of breath.  After opening the car's windows, she began to feel better, but after closing them, the symptoms returned. 

Thinking quickly, the driver opened all four of the car's windows as well as the sunroof and hit her emergency button -- which automatically dials 911 and alerts the Lyft dispatcher.

In her letter to 11Alive News, the driver said that she suspected that the men she had picked up were somehow involved in the incident. 

While she tried to talk to the 911 dispatcher, she said that she realized that her speech was becoming slurred. She said the men began to try to talk over her, telling her what to do.

She said that the men tried to tell her to pull the car over, but she continued to drive. She said the men actually tried to wrestle the wheel from her, but she said she continued to drive and maintain control of the car, finally pulling over at a Pilot gas station, where she said she saw "plenty of people."

At that point, she said, she jumped out of the car, while she continued to talk to the 911 operator. 

She told the two men they needed to find a different ride to their destination. 

After first responders arrived, EMS crews took her vital signs, but she declined to go to the hospital for additional treatment. She said she gave police a description of the men. 

After contacting Lyft regarding the incident, they provided a release to 11Alive News.

"Safety is fundamental to Lyft and what the driver described is unacceptable. We have reached out to the driver and stand ready to assist law enforcement," the company said.

The driver told 11Alive News that she was very lucky, because of her reaction to the situation as it unfolded.

She said that the two men had drugged her with a substance with the street name "Devil's Breath."

Known by the clinical name scopolamine, Devil's Breath has been referred to in some circles as the "world's scariest drug," due to the effects it can elicit in high dosages. It can lead to hallucinations, frightening images and a lack of free will in those who ingest it. 

Amnesia may occur, which can leave victims unable to recall events or identify perpetrators.

The drug is made from the seeds of the borrachero tree and is mainly produced in Colombia.

The street drug is used in a more common prescription form to assist in warding off motion sickness or postoperative nausea or vomiting. It is usually administered through a small transdermal patch that, in many cases is placed behind the ear. 

According to Drugs.com, the compound has been used for hundreds of years in spiritual rituals in South America.

Scopolamine is also present in Jimson Weed, which is a plant found over much of the continental United States.

According to the CIA, scopolamine's use as a "truth serum," when used together with morphine and chloroform to induce a state of "twilight sleep" actually dates to 1922 by a Dallas physician who assisted law enforcement in the interrogation of prisoners in the Dallas County Jail.

The CDC says that during 1995 and 1996, scopolamine poisoning among heroin users skyrocketed in the Northeast Corridor as street sales of heroin cut with the Columbian drug.

The US State Department notes that scopolamine can render a victim unconscious for 24 hours or more. 

The State Department and other law enforcement agencies point out major things that everyone should keep in mind in order to prevent being assaulted or being taken advantage of through the use of scopolamine or a similar drug:

  • Never leave food or drinks unattended when traveling
  • Do not accept food or drinks from strangers or new acquaintances
  • Travel in a large group when possible, and do not leave with strangers
  • Always check the State Department's crime and safety warnings before traveling to a foreign country; additionally, check with local police reports regarding potentially dangerous areas in cities in the United States.
  • Seek medical assistance immediately if you believe you may been drugged

Because the driver did not go to the hospital for further treatment, it's unclear if she was actually drugged or if something else caused her symptoms.

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