A woman told police she was attacked by the driver of a ride-hailing service on a trip from Pacific Beach to Carlsbad on Thursday morning.
Police are investigating the incident as a felony sexual assault case, said SDPD Lt. Brent Williams. Investigators said a hospital examination confirmed the woman was assaulted.
The woman called 911 from a gas station at the corner of Rancho Bernardo Road and West Bernardo Drive just before 5 a.m.
Officers said the woman told police the driver of the ride-hailing service Lyft picked her up for a ride but stopped somewhere else.
It's unclear whether the woman used a ride-sharing app or just got into the car with a stranger who may have impersonated a ride-share driver. When officers contacted the ride-share company named by the victim, the company could not find a record of this particular ride.
The alleged assault took place somewhere between Pacific Beach and Rancho Bernardo in an open area. The victim was not familiar with the area and could not say exactly where it happened, said police.
She said the driver sexually assaulted her and then dropped her off at the gas station in Rancho Bernardo where she then called 911.
The vehicle was described as a small white Toyota Prius, police said.
An employee of a 7-Eleven at the gas station told NBC 7 the woman never went inside the store.
The store manager said surveillance video captured the woman being dropped off at the location by a white vehicle. He also said the woman was 20 years old.
SDPD Lt. Brent Williams said investigators have not confirmed that the woman used Lyft.
Williams also said the video from the store does not clearly show the make of the white vehicle or the driver behind the wheel. There were not any visible ride-service logos on the car.
Police also do not have a specific location where the woman said she got into the vehicle.
Officers are investigating this as a credible report.
The Pacific Beach community was shaken by this incident, with some residents explaining how they stay safe while using ride-sharing services.
One resident, Maya Olonia, told NBC 7 she's very careful to always use the actual ride-sharing app.
"It gives you their name, and it gives you a photo of them and their license plate and the car they drive," said Olonia. "And when I use it, I check to make sure that is who's picking me up because I've heard stories like this, and it terrifies me."
NBC 7 has reached out to Lyft for information regarding the allegation. A representative said the company would issue a statement soon.
The suspect has been described as a man in his mid-30's. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs about 180 pounds, said Lt. Williams.