Cab ride ends in tragedy, passenger killed

Red Deer cabbies are feeling the loss of a customer who died for doing the right thing.

Red Deer cabbies are feeling the loss of a customer who died for doing the right thing.

He took a cab ride home from the pub, but was killed early Saturday after his taxi was rear-ended at a city intersection.

“It was a high impact collision. (The cab) had no trunk left. I’ve been to quite a few accidents and this is one I will never forget,” said John Whittingham, manager of Alberta Gold Taxi.

The male passenger died at the scene after riding in the back seat of a cab that was plowed into by a pickup truck at 30th Avenue and 32nd Street.

According to Red Deer City RCMP, the Alberta Gold taxi had been stopped facing northbound at about 3:30 a.m., when a truck travelling north on 30th Avenue rear-ended the cab.

The taxi was extensively damaged, and the pickup rolled onto its side, blocking the intersection.

The cab driver was rushed to Red Deer hospital with what were initially thought to be serious injuries.

But after being checked for a possible punctured lung or internal bleeding, he was released from hospital later on Saturday afternoon, said Whittingham.

“They thought he had a hard impact to his chest, but his lung was not punctured.”

“He’s very shaken up,” the manager added, estimating the cab driver in his late 20s will need some counselling and at least a week off before thinking about going back on the job.

The cabbie has never received a speeding ticket or any other traffic violation in six years driving with Alberta Gold, said Whittingham.

“He’s a nice kid — the kind of kid you would let date your daughter.”

The pickup truck driver was taken to hospital for treatment and released.

Weather and road conditions were not considered factors in the collision, which is still under investigation by police and RCMP traffic analysts.

Whittingham is calling for more police Checkstops, which he believes were reduced in number recently.

He said all of his cab drivers were shaking their heads over the fact that a passenger could die for doing the right thing — calling a cab after having some drinks at a pub.

“There’s nothing that can be said to change what has happened. What do you do? You feel very, very sorry for his family,” said Whittingham, who heard the male passenger had just dropped off his girlfriend at her home before the collision happened.

The deceased man will not be identified until his relatives are notified.

“I will never forget this,” said Whittingham, who noted this is the first time his company had a passenger killed in a crash.

Two years ago, an Alberta Gold Taxi cabbie was killed when a motorist turning left collided with his taxi near 30th Avenue and 55th Street.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com