Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cabbies plan fundraiser for badly injured driver

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Owners and drivers of Duffy's cabs will be raising funds for the 31-year-old driver critically injured in a bizarre crash early Thursday morning.

Kris Widla, Duffy's controller, said the city's second-largest taxi fleet is scheduled to hold its annual general meeting Sunday and details of the fundraising effort will be finalized there.

"At the very least, I think there will be a cash donation by the drivers and the owners," Widla said. "And I expect we will be doing something else as well."

The 31-year-old driver, who has not been named, was taken to hospital in critical condition and spent several hours in surgery.

Police said the driver is in serious condition.

The Toyota Prius cab crashed into a tree on Beverley Street near Portage Avenue just before 4 a.m. Thursday.

The driver had picked up a fare earlier and was heading south on Beverley Street. Police said witness accounts describe the vehicle moving at a high rate of speed and erratically, and it appeared the driver was in a confrontation with the 43-year-old passenger, who was sitting in the front seat.

The passenger was also taken to hospital in critical condition but he died from his injuries later Thursday morning.

Police said it's possible the passenger was trying to rob the driver and if the two were struggling over control of the steering wheel, that could explain the crash.

Police had hoped surveillance video from the cab's in-board camera could show what happened in the moments before the crash. While the surveillance equipment was turned on, video from those moments isn't available, police said Friday.

Police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said investigators are considering whether the surveillance system was on but not recording or the recording was damaged in the crash. Video from earlier in the fare was available but shed no light on what caused the crash, Michalyshen said.

Widla said the driver's family has asked for privacy and will not be making any statements to the media at this time.

Duffy's drivers and owners are concerned about the injured driver's well-being, Widla said.

"It's a risk of the job but it's not something you expect every day," Widla said.

The dead passenger has been identified as Jackson Muminawatum Jr., of Norway House.

Muminawatum's father, Jackson Sr., said his son had only recently returned to Winnipeg from the family home in Norway House.

"The last time I saw him was Tuesday," Muminawatum said. "He asked me for money and then he hitchhiked out of here."

Muminawatum said his son had been in and out of jail, most recently released from Headingley Correctional Institute in May, after serving nine months of an 18-month sentence.

His son had been in most of the province's jails, Muminawatum said.

"He was just trouble," he said.

Muminawatum said his son was in a common-law relationship with a woman in Norway House before he died, but he had never been married and had no children.

Muminawatum said he expects his son's body will be returned to Norway House today, which would mark the start of a two-day memorial period. A funeral will likely be held Monday, he said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 22, 2012 A5

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