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Photo Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Zachery Richard Johnson

Efforts to find an Uber driver who called her boyfriend Saturday night to report she was being raped by a passenger took four law enforcement agencies and three 911 emergency call centers an hour and 18 minutes, according to police.

Ooltewah resident Zachery Richard Johnson, 36, was arrested Saturday by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, which received a call around 9 p.m. from a man who said he believed his girlfriend had been kidnapped and was being raped.

The woman's boyfriend had called 911 after he received a call from her saying she was being sexually assaulted by a man she had provided a ride for. He reported hearing a male voice in the background saying "Come here baby, come here baby!" followed by his girlfriend crying and screaming "I don't want to" twice before the line cut off, according to an arrest report.

Hamilton County 911 called the victim's phone and made several brief connections, advising officers "they could hear sounds of the Uber driver struggling and the sounds of an active assault in progress," the arrest report said.

The driver had responded to a reservation for an Uber ride at the Chili's on Gunbarrel Road outside Hamilton Place mall, the report said. The ride was requested and paid for by a female employee of the restaurant, who then met with the driver at the parking lot and told her the ride was for a customer who was intoxicated.

"This is Zach, he's a good guy, he's a regular here," the Chili's employee reportedly told the driver before handing her a cash tip and Johnson's car keys, the report said.

The driver was finally located in a cul-de-sac just over 3 miles from the Chili's, on the 8800 block of Pebble Creek Road, after her cellphone was pinged near the location by emergency services, authorities said. Chattanooga Police Department officers found Johnson "physically on top" of the victim with his pants and underwear pulled down. The report said the driver was "hysterical and showing behavior consistent with a person who has been a victim of a violent crime."

The driver told Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Detective Jason Maucere that Johnson attempted to steal her vehicle, but she fought back, and the man then managed to wedge himself into the driver's seat with her.

"That was agony," the victim told police about being squished into the seat by Johnson, further alleging he then began to sexually assault her.

Uber said in a Wednesday email it is committed to driver and passenger safety, and that the company had banned Johnson from using the app.

"The driver's report is gut-wrenching. We've reached out to her to offer our support and stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation," an Uber spokesperson said in the email.

According to the company, there is an emergency button on the app — a three-step process — that will connect directly to 911 and provide law enforcement officers with location and ride information in real time.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office issued a statement thanking all agencies involved in the search for the driver as well as the emergency call centers for their efforts in helping find the Uber driver.

"[We would] like to also thank the personnel with Hamilton County 911, McMinn County 911 and Bradley County 911 for their efforts to help locate the victim," the statement said.

The investigation is ongoing and no further details were available Wednesday.

Contact La Shawn Pagán at lpagan@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter @LaShawnPagan.

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