Police seek 2 suspects in cabbie's death


POSTED: Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A 41-year-old taxicab driver found unconscious in a parking lot in Waipahu has died, renewing comments about how dangerous the business is.

He was identified as Charlys Ty Tang of Honolulu. Police are asking the public's help in locating two men for questioning.

At 1:50 a.m. Saturday, Tang was found unresponsive outside his vehicle in the parking lot of Times Super Market in Waipahu.

Police said Tang picked up two men near Kuhio and Seaside avenues in Waikiki at about 1:15 a.m.

In Waipahu a witness reported seeing a cabdriver chase some people he had dropped off, apparently to collect the fare.

The cabdriver was taken in critical condition to the Queen's Medical Center, where he died of blunt force injuries to his head. The death was classified as a homicide by the Medical Examiner's Office.

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Police described Tang as an independent cabdriver who did not work for a taxi company.

Some taxi drivers were shaken by Tang's death.

“;He was in the wrong place at wrong time,”; said Marshall Uchida, a taxi driver for nine years. Since Tang's death, Uchida said, he is more aware of his surroundings and potential passengers. If someone appears to be of a questionable character, he will pass them by.

Many cabdrivers are working longer hours because of the sluggish economy.

“;It's kinda slow right now,”; said Uchida. “;Not too many people are using cabs. We try to get as much as we can.”;

Howard Higa, president of TheCab, said, “;Taxi driving is one of the most dangerous professions in the nation. You're picking up people you don't even know.”;

Five years ago, panic buttons—hooked up to global positioning systems to alert dispatchers where the cabs are—were installed in vehicles who work for TheCab as a preventive measure. Higa said drivers who work with taxi companies attend yearly safety conferences where they are advised not to go after perpetrators.

“;For 30 or 50 bucks, do not risk your life. It's not worth it,”; he said.

Henry Ching, a 13-year taxi driver for Charley's, said the response to a dangerous passenger depends on the circumstances.

“;This is where you gotta use common sense as to what you're going to do, where you're going to go,”; he said. Ching said he will either drive to a place where help is available or jump out of his cab.

“;It gives me a fighting chance,”; he said.

With competition at a high between taxi drivers, Ching said unity is necessary for everyone's safety.

“;Whenever I pass a Charley's driver, I always wave. When I see them stop on the road, I'll slow down to make sure he's OK. Other company drivers, they do the same with their company,”; he said. “;Between different companies you don't have that relationship.”;

“;It would be nice if all the drivers, because of safety, would pay attention to each other,”; said Ching.

Anyone with information on the two men wanted for questioning in connection with Tang's death can call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.