A Whitehorse woman who was involved in a crash with an alleged impaired driver on Feb. 25 says that tighter monitoring is needed to ensure that taxi drivers and their vehicles are road-safe.
The owner of the taxi company, though, says there are “two different sides” to the story.
In an interview Feb. 26, Nicky Myke, 33, said that she was driving north on Lewes Boulevard around 12:30 p.m. and was approaching Klondike Road when a Grizzly Bear Taxi-branded SUV travelling the opposite direction suddenly made a left turn into her path.
“There was no way in hell I was able to stop,” Myke recalled.
Myke’s truck t-boned the taxi, resulting in heavy damage to both vehicles.
According to a Yukon RCMP press release, the 61-year-old driver of the taxi was arrested and charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle and refusal to provide a breath sample. He was released with a promise to appear in court on April 3.
The taxi driver’s name has not been released.
Both the truck and the taxi were towed from the scene.
Myke said that while she walked away from the crash with only minor injuries, the experience has left her shaken.
“When it comes to cab drivers … they’re supposed to be our safe ride home,” she said, claiming that she and other witnesses to the crash smelled alcohol on the taxi driver’s breath and that the taxi’s tires looked like they were bald.
“I know bylaw probably needs a lot more staffing … to enforce (taxi regulations), but definitely, it’s a worthwhile cause that they do have more employees and people that can enforce this, because something worse could have happened, and luckily it didn’t.”
City of Whitehorse spokesperson Myles Dolphin said in an email Feb. 26 that a patrolling bylaw officer came across the crash after the RCMP arrived at the scene and, “based on the available information and circumstances,” seized the SUV’s taxi licence plate and the driver’s vehicle-for-hire permit.
The manager of bylaw services is deciding if the permit will be suspended or revoked, Dolphin wrote in another email.
In a phone interview the afternoon of Feb. 26, Grizzly Bear Taxi owner Midhun Kalpak said that the taxi driver was not on shift at the time of the crash, and that the SUV, though branded with Grizzly’s name, is insured and registered under the driver’s name.
Kalpak also said he had spoken to the driver, who denied making an erratic turn and that he was driving drunk.
While the driver said he refused to give a breath sample at the scene, Kalpak continued, it was because he was “in shock” from the crash and later did “at least five or six different breath analyzers, a couple of times” at the police detachment.
Yukon RCMP spokesperson Coralee Reid confirmed that officers brought the taxi driver to the Whitehorse detachment. However, she declined to comment on the specifics of the refusal to provide a breath sample charge as the case is before the courts.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org