A taxi driver in the Comox Valley is already back to work after a passenger bit off the top portion of his ring finger last month.
Comox Taxi driver Bruce Morgan was taken to hospital following an altercation with a passenger behind the 7-11 on Ryan Road on the evening of Saturday, April 28.
“He was dispatched to pick up a passenger at the gazebo at Simms Park and when he picked up the passenger, the passenger almost immediately became aggressive,” said a manager with Comox Taxi. “They pulled over not even two minutes into the drive, behind 7-11 on Ryan Road.”
Morgan told The Record the passenger wouldn’t tell him a destination and eventually demanded they pull over behind the 7-11.
“He never even looked at me, he just said ‘pull over here,’ and it happened to be behind 7-11,” said Morgan.
Morgan said after a short exchange, he told the passenger he would have to drive to the police station, after which the passenger started “throwing punches.”
“I blocked most of it. I put my hand under his jaw and pushed his head against the window. That’s how my fingers got close to his mouth. He grabbed the ring finger on my right hand and bit a piece of it off.”
Following that, Morgan said the passenger lunged across the console and put him in a headlock. He got the door open and the two tumbled out onto the ground.
Coincidentally, it was an off-duty Comox Taxi driver who came across the altercation and came to Morgan’s aid.
“At some point during the struggle, a fellow cab driver was driving by and saw his co-worker in distress,” said the company’s manager. “He pulled over and held down the alleged suspect until RCMP could arrive.”
Morgan said he didn’t initially think the passenger was impaired but said he could smell beer in his cab after he’d been treated at the hospital.
“I don’t know if it was alcohol or drugs… but it seemed to be planned out,” he said. “He knew he was going to do something eventually.”
On May 9, the Comox Valley RCMP detachment confirmed in a statement that an assault on a taxi driver occurred and that the passenger was arrested at the scene.
“On April 28, 2018, at approximately 7:30 p.m., the Comox Valley RCMP were called to a report of a taxi driver being assaulted,” wrote RCMP media relations officer Monika Terragni.
“A man was arrested at the scene and has since been released with an upcoming court date.”
Morgan suffered non-life threatening injuries and received medical attention at a local hospital.
He later filed a Workers Compensation Board claim and said he even returned to work the same night of the incident.
Morgan said it’s the first time he’s experienced abuse from a passenger since he started driving taxis.
“I do Fridays and Saturdays and you’re always picking up drunk people. Sometimes they try and tease you or give you a hard time, but if you don’t have a thick skin you shouldn’t be doing it,” he said. “It’s nothing anyone can’t handle and it’s nothing any of my fellow drivers don’t go through.
“For the most part, everyone is decent.”
According to Morgan, the tip of his finger couldn’t be found after the altercation.