Saturday, June 23, 2007

Slain cabbie laid to rest; Taxi drivers form cortege to grave site

From the Kingston Whig-Standard website

Ian Elliot
Saturday, June 23, 2007

Local News
- Both of David Krick's families turned out for his funeral yesterday morning.

There was his immediate family in the front row of pews in the Tompkins Funeral Chapel on Colborne Street. Filling the back chairs and the streets around the funeral home was what his sister-in-law, Robyn Lawlor, called his "taxi family," scores of city cabbies who booked off to honour their fellow driver and travel with him to his grave in Elginburg.

Krick, 50, who drove for Amey's, was stabbed to death by a fare he picked up early Sunday morning on Wright Crescent. Most of the city's cab drivers took time out from picking up fares to attend his funeral.

That left the city's streets nearly empty of taxis as vehicles and drivers from all the city's cab companies clogged the streets around the funeral home prior to following the hearse up Division Street shortly before noon.

"This was the right thing to do," said driver Dennis Robinson, who was among many groups of drivers who stood on the street surrounding the funeral home.

"Not everybody is here but most are. Customers are going to have a wait, but I think most are going to understand."

Several of the city's cab companies imposed radio silence for 10 minutes at 11 a.m., the time the funeral began. During that period, as a gesture of respect for Krick, dispatchers did not send out calls.

The feeling of family was evident among the drivers, who spoke candidly of the dangers of their jobs and what they saw as the senselessness of Krick's death.

Statistically, taxi drivers in Canada are more at risk of being killed on the job than police officers. The drivers, many of whom knew Krick, as he had worked as a cabbie for decades, and most of whom have had their own encounters with drunken or violent passengers, said that robbery could not have been a motive.

"It was 7 a.m. in the morning, he wouldn't have had more than $20 or $30 in his float," noted Robinson.

"He wouldn't have had anything."

Longtime cabbie Doug Robinson, the former owner of Kingston and Amherst Taxi Company, said Krick's death was a saddening reminder of the dangers that cab drivers face and that it hit each one personally.

"There's no words to describe it," he said.

"You never know who you're going to pick up. You hope for the best, and there are a lot of good people in the world, but you never know."

Oscar Henault, a war veteran, said cabbies face danger every time they start their shifts.

"I was shot at several times when I was flying and it wasn't as dangerous as this job," he said, taking a drag on a cigarette as he stood outside the funeral home.

"And people wonder why we smoke."

The death hit Henault quite hard as he not only knew Krick but was on duty for Kingston and Amherst on Sunday morning in the same zone as the Amey's driver.

"If he hadn't called the other company, I would have been the one who answered that call," he said.

Doug Cox, the current owner of the Kingston and Amherst company, said drivers are just trying to make a living doing an often-thankless job and few would pass up the chance to pay their respects to Krick, described as a quiet and mild-mannered man who continued to drive a cab because he genuinely enjoyed the job even when he had other jobs.

"These are working guys who are out there just trying to make a dollar," he said.

"We're going to be having some discussions on safety, but that's something we'll be doing in the future.

"Right now it's a time to mourn."

Rev. Terry Deline, who conducted Krick's funeral service in front of an overflowing chapel, called his death "sickening and heart-rending" but pleaded for compassion for the persons responsible.

Kingston Police have not yet made an arrest in the case but say they have suspects.

"The person or persons who did this will carry this on their consciences all the days of their lives," said Deline, who himself drove for Amey's when he was a young man.

"I ask you to pray for them so that they will be free from their murderous, evil ways."

His sister-in-law remembered how much Krick loved his job, and said it added to the tragedy that he died doing what he loved.

Robyn Lawlor thanked police, friends and most of all what she termed the city's "taxi family" for their support over the past week, in a eulogy that caused many of the street-hardened cabbies who attended the ceremony, some in black suits and others in their work clothes, to sniffle and weep openly in the chapel.

"David will continue to ride with each and every one of you," she told the crowded hall, as she herself began to break down.

"God bless each and every one of you."

Police Chief Bill Closs attended yesterday's service and spent several minutes talking with Krick's family in the back of the funeral limousine.

The investigation is a high-profile one for the city force, and he vowed to the family that the case would be resolved, and said afterwards that despite the often contentious relationship between cabbies and city police, the force relies on their eyes and ears.

"A lot of people don't know it, but taxi drivers help us out every single day by reporting things that they see or hear," Closs said.

He said he wanted to show his support for the entire fleet of city drivers, and said whoever was responsible for Krick's death would be brought to justice.

"I wanted to reassure the family, and I will repeat it, that the person or persons who did this will never enjoy another night of rest," he said.

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