Monday, June 18, 2007

Update from today's Whig-Standard

Kingston Taxi Driver Murdered

Taxi driver slain; David Krick, 50, is Kingston's first homicide victim of the year

Jordan Press
Monday, June 18, 2007

Local News
- David Krick turned to his mother in the early hours of yesterday and let her know he was going to work.

"He said to me, 'I'm going to take your car, mom, and I'll be back by 9:30 [a.m.],' " said his mother, Shirley.

"But he never came back."

Instead of coming home, Krick, 50, died after being stabbed in the chest, and in the process became the first homicide of the year in Kingston.

"I'm all shook up, losing your son that way," Shirley said. "He was a good son - he helped me out any way he could."

The 50-year-old cab driver was stabbed early yesterday morning on Durham Street, just south of Princess Street and west of Victoria Street.

Police said in a release that there didn't appear to be any motive for the killing. A post-mortem is scheduled for today.

Shouts of "help" pierced the morning air and the sound of screeching tires followed when the words stopped.

It was around 6:45 a.m. when Krick hit the alarm button in his cab and alerted his company something was amiss. Amey's taxi drivers in the area came to the scene to help.

"And we found David," said driver Shelly Scott, who was one of the drivers who came to Krick's aid.

Police and drivers tried to stop the bleeding caused from the multiple stab wounds to Krick's chest. One, his mother said, pierced his heart.

An ambulance rushed Krick to Kingston General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, said Det. Bill Kennedy.

However, Krick's car wasn't on Durham Street. The assailant had gotten into the car and had driven off before help and officers arrived.

Police put out a notice about the Chevrolet Impala.

An officer on patrol and looking for the cab noticed the car pulling into the parking lot of the An Clachan apartment complex on Van Order Drive. Kennedy said the officer saw a man fleeing from the vehicle.

A description of the man hasn't been released.

Kingston Police closed off Durham Street and sectioned off the northeast corner of the apartment parking lot as forensic investigators combed through both crime scenes.

The white car had blood splattered on the rear passenger-side door, including three distinct, blood-stained fingerprints. Blood could also be seen above the window frame on the passenger door.

Along Durham Street and in the surrounding area, volunteer officers sifted through trees, bushes and gardens for the weapon used in the attack.

The search followed the trail the cab took from the scene to the apartment complex more than a kilometre away. Police were able to use information from the global positioning system installed in the car.

Amey's installed the system, along with the alarm button, in its cars for driver safety. Before the alarm button, drivers had to use the two-way radio to call for help.

Police didn't release much information about the killing yesterday, only saying more information would come as the investigation continued.

"There's a pile of things we just don't know," Kennedy said. "I'm hoping somebody can tell us who this fellow is and what they saw."

Police said it didn't appear that Krick had been hauled from his vehicle at the time of the attack.

Krick started driving taxis when he was 19, Shirley said. He enjoyed it so much that he continued doing it, she said.

A couple of months ago, he started working at Benson Autoparts during the week and driving a taxi on the weekend, she said.

Krick was tall and gangly, standing just over six feet in height and weighed about 140 pounds, Shirley said. He ate very little, she said.

Friend Dennis Keefe, a fellow cab driver, said Krick "had a very positive mechanism that would draw people to him." The two became good friends about 15 years ago when Krick started driving.

Keefe said Krick was honest, fair and never had a mean word for anyone.

"We lost an extremely good man," Keefe said from behind the wheel of his cab. "He was the kind of guy you could sit and shoot the crap with."

Word of the killing spread quickly through the taxi community and the reactions ranged from anger to sadness over the loss.

"When something happens to one person, it affects the whole industry. The whole industry is family," Keefe said. "When it comes down to someone getting hurt, there are no different companies."

Keefe said Krick enjoyed playing golf and darts with his buddies.

"We're all human. We're all going to remember the good times with him," Keefe said. "Personally, I'll just remember him as a good person, an honest person."

"It's a tragic loss," he added. "It's a stupid loss."

- with files from Erin Flegg

Violence against cab drivers occurs frequently in the city

Erin Flegg
Monday, June 18, 2007 - 00:00

Local News
- Don Nevin says he accepts that dealing with violence is part of his job description.

"It happens. There's really nothing you can do to prevent it," he said.

But Nevin doesn't work for law enforcement or the correctional service. He drives a taxi.

At midnight on a weekday about a year ago, he responded to a call at Stephen and Division streets, where he picked up two young men.

When it came time for them to pay, Nevin said, one of them hit him in the back of the head and again in the face before taking off.

Violence against cab drivers is common in the city.

Three weeks before yesterday's slaying of 50-year-old Amey's taxi driver David Krick, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison for assaulting a cab driver with a BB gun in January. In February of this year, an Amey's taxi driver was threatened with a knife.

Nevin said he believes the precautions taken by some companies, such as the emergency response buttons Amey's installed on 70 vehicles last year, are pointless.

When a driver presses a red button on the dash of his or her car, the dispatch station can locate the car using a global positioning system and notify the police. Other Amey's taxis in the area are also sent to the scene.

Before the installation of the satellite system, drivers had to use the two-way radio to let the dispatch know they were in trouble.

"It has its merits, but if you can't get to it, what difference does it make?" Nevin said.

Ross Mahaffey, a driver with Modern Taxi, agreed that safety precautions in cars are virtually non-existent. He said one of the other regulations put in place to protect drivers can sometimes backfire.

Mahaffey recently received a $100 ticket for not wearing his seatbelt while driving without passengers.

Cabbies are allowed to go unbuckled when they have customers in the car to prevent them from being easily attacked with the strap from behind, and Mahaffey said it's easy for drivers to forget to buckle back up and then get caught by police. He said he often believes cab companies and the police are more concerned with protecting passengers from their cabbies.

"They're more concerned about us beating on passengers. That seems to be the philosophy," he said

He tries to protect himself by being selective about the jobs to which he responds.

"I don't take calls in certain parts of town if it's not a house address," he said. He admitted he has never considered the location of David Krick's death on Durham Street a rough part of town.

"You're just left up to your own wits, really, reading situations." Dennis Keefe, a driver with Amey's and friend of Krick's, doesn't agree. He says there are a number of things that can be done; it's just a matter of forcing people to do them.

"Where it stands right now, the taxi industry doesn't [care] about our safety."

He said taxi drivers are some of the most vulnerable people in the workforce, second only to the police.

"It's the second-most dangerous job there is. ... We have no protection."

He said cameras in every car as well as partitions between passengers and the driver would be a major step toward preventing violence against cabbies.

While a camera may not have saved Krick's life, Keefe said it would at least have given the police a much clearer picture of whom to look for. It could also serve as a deterrent to other potentially aggressive passengers.

"It's something that the taxi industry really has to take a look at."

He said the emergency response buttons are a good start, but they aren't as effective as they could be.

"If you're in danger of some sort, it should certainly be sent to the police."

Keefe said incidents such as yesterday's killing dispel the notion that Kingston is a safe, quiet town.

"I know you hear about things like this happening in Toronto and New York, but you don't hear about it in this city. ... But, you know, you've got to face facts."

On-the-job danger

Recent incidents of violence against Kingston taxi drivers

June 17, 2007: Amey's taxi driver David Krick, 50, is slain by an unknown assailant.

February 2007: An Amey's taxi driver is robbed by a man wielding a knife.

January 2007: A taxi driver is assaulted by a drunk man with a BB gun. The attacker was sentenced to five years in prison.

February 2006: An Amey's taxi driver is assaulted by a drunken passenger. His injuries are minor.

April 2005: A man is sentenced to two years in prison for armed robbery of a cab driver followed by assault on a different person a month later.

March 2005: A taxi driver is assaulted by a drunk passenger. When the driver tried to radio for help, the microphone was pulled away.

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