Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hunt for Sydney taxi driver after passenger left fighting for life

Police are searching for the driver of a maroon- or burgundy-coloured taxi, who fled after a man suffered critical head injuries when he fell out of the vehicle in Sydney's south this morning.

The 21-year-old Engadine man remains on life support at St George Hospital this afternoon.
The man was with a 21-year-old friend and two women when they boarded a taxi at Cronulla Street, Cronulla, after leaving a nightclub just after midnight, police said.

The taxi was believed to have stopped at Jannali, where the women were dropped off, before heading to the intersection of Hunter Street and Johnstone Avenue, Kirrawee.
The man is believed to have "fallen and hit his head on the ground" as he got out of the taxi after his friend, who is from Kirrawee, police said.

Police allege there was a disagreement with the taxi driver over the fare.
The driver allegedly did not stop to help him and left in his taxi, police said.

"We believe the taxi was moving while he was getting out of the taxi," Senior Sergeant Peter Jenkins, commander of the Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit, told reporters at a press conference.

"We are [now] convinced that he has not been dragged by the taxi, as we originally believed.

"We believe that it was a Tarago-type taxi, maroon or burgundy in colour, and we are liaising very closely with the local taxi companies in an effort to locate that taxi and the driver."

Senior Sergeant Jenkins said later that investigators knew which taxi company employed the driver, but had not found him yet.

Police appealed for the taxi driver and the women to come forward. They believe the driver is a man, but have no description of him.

Senior Sergeant Jenkins said the injured man's friend was intoxicated at the time and was too traumatised by his friend's condition to answer questions.

One taxi company that runs a fleet of maroon Tarago vehicles, St George Cabs Diamond Service, would not comment about whether the driver was one of theirs, referring to the NSW Taxi Council instead.
A NSW Taxi Council spokeswoman said her organisation was "co-operating with [police] as we always do" but would not comment further.

"We don’t speak publicly on a police investigation as a matter of policy," she said.
They urged anyone with information to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

In 2007, Sydney woman Jenny Franco, 23, lost an eye after she was dragged 150 metres by a taxi.
The driver has not been found.

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