Santa Cruz college student jumps out of moving car to escape driver after hitchhiking

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A Santa Cruz college student jumped out of a moving car after she was picked up by a stranger who wouldn't let her out. (KGO-TV)

A terrifying ordeal happened early Thursday morning at UC Santa Cruz. A driver picked up a hitchhiker at Heller and McLaughlin Drive around 12: 45 p.m.

RELATED: UC Santa Cruz police arrest suspect in false imprisonment case

A university spokesman told us the student is doing well.

It ended three miles away with hitchhiker, a college student jumping out of a moving car at Bay and Mission streets.

Students at UC Santa Cruz can't believe what happened to one of their own. They don't bat an eye at the fact that she was hitchhiking.

"I was kinda terrified," said one student Kristina Miller. "Because you know, you put a lot of trust and I see people hitchhiking all the time."

"A student would be counting on another student to be in that car, and like, there's some camaraderie here," said Michelle Aldana, another student.

UC Santa Cruz police say the victim was at the bus stop at Heller and McLaughlin Drive at 12:45 a.m. Thursday when she decided to hitchhike. The man was smoking marijuana behind the wheel.

Officials say she accepted a ride with a man and that they had a casual conversation in the car. But when they got to Bay and High streets, where she wanted to get out, he didn't stop.

She pleaded with him to pull over for a mile, and ultimately jumped from the moving car as it slowed down at Mission Street.

I give her props, because I think I would just be panicking and not know what to do," said UC Santa Cruz senior Ashley Garrett. "Hopping out of the car like that, that was really smart."

"We have a police escort service that can help students during the evening too," said university spokesman Scott Hernandez-Jason. "Hitchhiking obviously comes with its own set of dangers. You don't know who you're getting a ride from."

The suspect is in his mid-20s. Police say he has a Spanish accent, slicked back hair and was driving a four door sedan. The car is described as dark gray or silver with a red paper license plate from a dealership in Watsonville.
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