Taxi injures cab drivers at Logan Airport in ‘tragic accident’
A taxi jumped a curb and barreled into a group of cabdrivers at Logan International Airport Monday, injuring 10 people in what officials described as a “tragic accident.”
There is no information to suggest the crash at the taxi lot was intentional, and the State Police said the driver — a 56-year-old Cambridge man who works for Metro Cab — has been cooperative with investigators. His cab was seized for investigation.
“He is known to be a very nice gentleman to his peers,” State Police Major Frank McGinn said about the driver at a news conference. He has “no history of violations or anything.”
Taxi driver Jephtet Roseme, who witnessed the crash, said people were trapped under the cab as fellow drivers frantically tried to help them.
One of the victims was seriously injured, three others were “significantly” injured, while six were less seriously injured, McGinn said. The most seriously hurt cabdriver, a 43-year-old man from Cambridge, had broken legs and “maybe some internal chest injuries,” he said. He was in serious but stable condition at Massachusetts General Hospital, according to State Police.
It was not clear how fast the cab was going at the time of the crash, and with the investigation unfolding, officials offered few details about the cause. Officials were examining the mechanics of the car, a computer system inside the cab, and surveillance video from the lot as part of the investigation, McGinn said. They will also interview witnesses.
McGinn said it was “still too early to know” if there were any mechanical issues with the vehicle. He also said it didn’t appear the man had a medical problem but noted the investigation was just beginning.
Metro Cab did not respond to calls or e-mails seeking comment.
The crash occurred at about 1:40 p.m. on the airport’s outskirts, at a massive asphalt lot where hundreds of cab drivers wait to be dispatched to airport terminals. At the head of the lot is a building with restrooms and a cafeteria. Outside the building, cab drivers often relax at tables and chairs on a sidewalk terrace. That is where the crash occurred.
Abdias Pierre, a taxi driver, said cabbies often play cards and dominoes at the tables. “It’s all taxi drivers around here,” he said.
He said the driver involved in the crash has been around a long time, and Pierre did not believe the incident was deliberate.
The taxicab was visibly damaged at the site of the crash, its hood crunched open and airbags deployed. It was surrounded by debris from the seating area.
Next to the seating area, a small worship center where drivers can pray throughout the day appeared to have been damaged. Nobody was inside the center at the time of the accident, McGinn said.
The victims were taken to Mass. General, Tufts Medical Center, and other area hospitals, State Police said. Tufts said it cared for five patients, one of whom had been discharged by Monday evening, two of whom were listed in good condition, and two of whom were in serious condition.
Hamid Amri, another driver at the taxi lot, said Monday was a very slow day at the airport, so drivers were forced to wait for hours.
Donna Blythe-Shaw, a former union representative for Boston taxi drivers who still advocates on their behalf, said that is an increasingly common circumstance at the Logan taxi pool. As more riders throughout the city turn to ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, taxi drivers head to the airport searching for fares.
“There’s no work (on) the streets anymore,” Blythe-Shaw said. “All the steady work is at the airport.”
Many cabdrivers work long hours — in some cases 16-hour shifts — and Blythe-Shaw speculated that fatigue may have played a role in the crash. In 2013, a Boston Globe Spotlight series on the cab industry found that some overworked drivers slept in their vehicles at the taxi pool.
“This could have just been a very exhausted cabdriver,” she said.
Trooper Paul Sullivan, a State Police spokesman, declined to comment on whether fatigue was an issue. He also declined to say whether the driver could face charges.
State Police said the driver’s name will not be released unless he is criminally charged.
Boston police Lieutenant Thomas Lema, who oversees the department’s hackney unit, declined to comment specifically about Monday’s crash, saying the investigation was being handled by the State Police.
Laura Oggeri, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston, said by e-mail Monday that city officials, including Boston police and Emergency Medical Services, did not have data about the safety track record of taxis in the city.
But Logan has seen some notable taxi accidents in the past, including an incident in 2003 when a traveler was killed by a cab that jumped the curb at a taxi stand outside baggage claim after a driver allegedly left a cab in drive as he stepped out of the vehicle.
And in 1997, a taxi driver lost his legs after he was struck by another taxi driver at the airport.
The incident also comes about two months after another professional driver — an employee at the Lynnway Auto Auction — killed five people in a crash at the site.