Driver Suspected in Sexual Assault


Laguna Beach police say they arrested an Uber driver for suspicion of raping a customer he was driving home to Laguna Beach at 2:31 a.m. from Huntington Beach on Saturday, Nov. 5,

The driver fled the scene of the assault, which took place near the customer’s home, police Sgt. Tim Kleiser said in an announcement Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Uber’s incident team assisted police with information about the driver, Samer Mahran, 22, of Huntington Beach, who was arrested at his home within hours of the assault, Kleiser said.

Mahran started driving for Uber in March and passed a criminal background check that showed no incidents, said Tracey Breeden, an Uber safety spokeswoman in Phoenix. Drivers who violate the company’s professionalism guidelines lose access to the Uber platform, but Breeden could not say how many drivers have been stripped of access. Mahran, though, has been permanently barred from the app, she said.

Criminal incidents are “rare compared to the millions of trips drivers make,” she said. Uber drivers use their own cars to ferry passengers, who hail them and pay for the ride using a smart phone.

Mahran was booked at the Orange County Jail and his bail was set at $100,000, Kleiser said.

The investigation is continuing to learn Mahran’s whereabouts after he left Laguna Beach, said Kleiser, who appealed to the public to come forward with information about this suspect or the case.

Kleiser can be reached at 949 464- 6671 or [email protected].

Tuesday, Nov. 1

Grand theft. Coast Hwy. 2:42 p.m. $1,300 worth of tools vanished from a vehicle.

Stolen vehicle. 31100 block of Coast Hwy. 1:47 p.m. Police arrested Clavel Rosita Altamirano, 19, San Diego, for suspicion of auto theft.

Thursday, Nov. 3

Citizen. 1200 block of S. Coast Hwy. 4:54 a.m. Curtis Benjamin Lowe, 34, of San Diego, was arrested for suspicion of passing counterfeit currency, having allegedly made a fast-food purchase with a phony $10 bill. Police say Lowe was in possession of four other fake bills of small denominations. Bail was set at $20,000.

Assault. 30900 block of S. Coast Hwy. 3:45 p.m. Police arrested Brannon Morse Hazelrigg, 27, of Newport Coast, and Jose Victor Zuniga, 30, of Santa Ana, for suspicion of battery and narcotic sales. Zuniga apparently angered when a potential buyer decided against a purchase and slugged the customer, who fled. When questioned by police, the dissatisfied potential customer allegedly told police about meeting the pair in response to a Craigslist ad. Bail was set at $100,000.

B&P violation. Six merchants, including some galleries, were cited for providing alcohol without a license. Citations were issued in the 200 and 300 block of N. Coast Highway, the 1200, 1300 and 1500 block of S. Coast Highway, and 200 block of Forest Avenue.

Friday, Nov. 4

Traffic stop. Cleo St. 12:14 a.m. A 28-year-old Misson Viejo woman was cited for DUI.

Vandalism. N. La Senda. 2 a.m. Spray paint defaced three vehicles.

Medical aid. 700 block of Nyes Place. A construction worker suffered a leg injury in a fall and was transported for treatment.

Grand theft. 500 block of Cliff Dr. 4:39 p.m. A resident says $3,120 in medications delivered by UPS were stolen.

Hit and run. 200 block of Broadway St. 8:34 p.m. A vehicle believed to be involved in a hit and run collision was found abandoned in a downtown lot.

Saturday, Nov. 5

Petty theft. 600 block of Virginia Park Dr. 8:20 a.m. A purse was taken from unlocked vehicle.

Hit and run. Alexander Rd. 9:52 a.m. Two Newport Beach teens switched off behind the wheel of a Mercedes that collided with one occupied vehicle as well as several parked cars before fleeing northbound. Police caught up to the car at Coast Highway and Broadway and detained the boys and a 15-year-old female passenger from Irvine. The teens face multiple charges, and were released to their parents.

Sunday, Nov. 6

Assault. 1100 block of S. Coast Hwy. 12:18 a.m. Richard Wallace Evan, 44, of San Juan Capistrano, was arrested for suspicion of domestic violence and resisting arrest after witnesses at a watering hole reported an assault of a woman.

Traffic collision. Coast Highway. 7:56 p.m. A 49-year-old Dana Point woman escaped injury after striking a parking car and a light pole, which was knocked to the ground. The cause of the collision is under investigation, but police say alcohol was not a factor.















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