Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cabbies still fear for their safety

Driver David Krick murdered a year ago

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Website:

Amey's taxi driver mike thompson has parked car No. 14 in a shady spot on a quiet sidestreet just south of Princess Street for a noon time break.

This is a place of reverence for Kingston cabbies. Thompson laments the lack of safety measures in

cabs, a year after colleague David Krick was murdered.

"We think about it all the time," said Thompson, standing next to his car, yesterday, just a few steps from the Durham Street sidewalk where Krick, bleeding profusely from stab wounds, was left to die early on the morning of June 17, 2007.

A few steps east of Thompson's car, a shrine to Krick has appeared around a utility pole.

There are two tin cans of wilted pink and purple flowers, two candles and a small white ceramic cherub. Fastened to the pole with black electrical tape is a complete copy of the front page of the Whig-Standard from that dreadful morning, June 18, 2007, when fellow cabbies awoke to the news of the murder.

Thompson had shared the driving duties of car No. 71 with Krick a few years earlier.

"When I saw the paper Monday morning ... I damn near dropped," Thompson said. "I wasn't angry; I was upset because we didn't know the details."

Police quickly determined what they believe had happened. Krick, working an early-morning shift, picked up a lone male passenger on Wright Crescent and drove east. The passenger robbed Krick, stabbed him and left him on Durham Street before speeding away in his taxi.

The taxi was abandoned at an apartment complex just off Van Order Drive. The killer escaped.

Four months after the slaying -the first murder of a Kingston cab driver - police charged a 31-year-old convict who had been on parole with first-degree murder.

The passage of a year has barely dulled a mother's pain. Shirley Krick calls June 17 "the lonely day."

"It's the worst day of my life," she said in an interview yesterday.

"I'm still hurting," Krick said. "I don't think that lonely feeling of missing David -I don't think it's ever going to go away."

She cannot bring herself to visit the spot on Durham Street where rescuers found her mortally wounded son.

"I'll never go out there," she said. "I accidentally made a wrong turn off Princess Street one time and I saw the sign that said Durham and I said to my daughter, 'We gotta get off here.' "

Despite Krick's murder, the agency that regulates Kingston cabs chose not to make any safety equipment mandatory.

The taxi commission created a safety committee to consult drivers and taxi cab owners. A survey was distributed. Of 133 responses, 64 per cent said they wanted to see cameras installed in all cabs.

The commission decided "there was no clear mandate" and decreed that the installation of any safety devices was at the discretion of cab owners.

There have been several violent attacks on cab drivers since Krick's murder.

"I'd like to see a shield [installed] of some sort," Thompson said.

He said that, fearful of confrontations, many cabbies ignore the law requiring them to be seatbelted in at all times.

"That belt becomes a real hindrance if you have to fight with someone," he noted.

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The case

:The murder of Amey's taxi driver David Krick, 50. WHEN:June 17, 2007, just before 7 a. m.

EVENTS:Police say Krick picked up a lone male passenger on Wright Crescent at 6:36 a. m. and was stabbed by that passenger and left bleeding on a sidewalk on Durham Street.

ACCUSED:On Oct. 11, police charged Richard Edmund Smith, 31, a federal prisoner, with first-degree murder; his common-law wife, Laura Jean Clow, 39, was charged Oct. 9 as an accessory after the fact. Smith, who was on parole at the time, has a 10-year record of violent crimes, including sexual assault.

SAFETY:Kingston's taxi commission studied safety measures for all cabs, including barriers and cameras, and decided not to make any safety equipment mandatory. Education for all drivers was made mandatory.

Copyright © 2008 The Whig Standard