Cabbie assaulted by passengers

Vernon Taxi driver assaulted by passengers

A Vernon cab driver ended up with a bloody nose after trying to pick up a group of 20-somethings intent on going to a bar.

The Vernon Taxi employee, who did not want to give his name, was dispatched to 13th Street, two blocks east of 15th Street, near Vernon Secondary, Sunday at 1:15 a.m. There, he said, he was met by a group of eight individuals – men and women – who said they were waiting for a cab to take them to a bar.

“The cab company had been busy and these people were trying to get down to the bar,” said the cabbie. “One guy claimed they’d been waiting an hour, another guy claimed a half-hour. Whatever the case, they were angry they had to wait for a cab to get to a bar.”

The cab driver said he loaded four of the group into his car, three in the back and one man in the passenger seat. The four who had to wait, said the driver, became verbally abusive towards him.

“I said, ‘I’m not sending another cab because you guys are too abusive,’” said the man. “One person on the sidewalk threw a bottle at the car and hit the car on the driver’s door. I slammed on the brakes and that’s when the passenger in the front seat started hitting me.”

The driver said the male hit him with a fist on the side of his head a few times, and in the face, resulting in the bloody nose. He said the passengers got out of the cab and he left.

“One guy started chasing me,” said the driver. “I went to 15th Street, parked, and one of my colleagues came on along. The dispatcher had called police and four police cars showed up.”

The cabbie said he stayed parked on 15th Street to deal with his bloody nose. He said he doesn’t know what became of the group.

“They scattered on their own business,” he said. “By the time I got my wits together, all four people in my car were gone. I think they went to the other group but where they went from there I don’t know.”

The driver has been with Vernon Taxi just shy of two years and said it was the first time he was ever attacked. He planned to resume driving his cab.

“I normally don’t work Friday or Saturday nights but we thought we’d be busy and I was asked to work,” said the driver. “At the time of the incident, it was very busy for the company.

“My question is, why were they going to the bar at one in the morning when the bars close at two? We barely get them there, then we have to take them home?”

Vernon RCMP confirmed the assault on the cab driver.

“We are still actively investigating this file but have had no luck turning up any suspects,” said Vernon RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk.

Vernon Taxi owner Jana Ingram said her company talks with drivers all the time about being careful picking up the late-night, early-morning fares, especially where alcohol may play a factor.

“Drivers have to be careful who they let in their cab,” said Ingram. “Police have said the same thing. If they don’t feel comfortable, or have a bad feeling, don’t let them sit behind you. We talk about this quite often.”

Ingram said cabbies can often defuse a potentially volatile situation themselves.

“Just by talking, being friendly and not provoking them into anything,” said Ingram, who estimated that there have been three assaults on her cab drivers this year, though she termed the previous incidents as “nothing serious, thank God.”