Mass. family leaves sleeping child, 5, in taxi; cops threaten to suspend cabbie, but back offBy Bob Salsberg, AP
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Boston hack almost takes blame for forgotten child
BOSTON — A family picked up by a taxi at the airport left a sleeping 5-year-old child behind in the back of the minivan — and the cabbie almost took the blame for it.
Joseph Cohen, a taxi driver for 39 years, picked up the family at Logan International Airport on Sunday, drove them to their home in the city’s Mattapan neighborhood, and helped them unload their luggage.
“They paid me, thank you very much, everything was nice, and I left,” he said.
Minutes later, Cohen got a call from the cab pool at the airport. State police, who have jurisdiction over Logan, were looking for him.
He was told the family left a child in his cab.
“I said, ‘What?’ So I looked in the back and I see the baby sleeping. I said, ‘What should I do?’ So you know, I take the baby (back) to the family,” he said. “The father came out. He was very happy.”
He even gave him a $50 tip.
The following day, Cohen was ordered to report to the Hackney unit, where police told him his license was being suspended for three days because he didn’t do a thorough check of the van. He appealed the suspension and was allowed to keep his license pending a hearing. On Tuesday, he visited the police station with an attorney and learned he would only get a warning.
“We are very happy that the baby was safely returned to mom and dad,” said Elaine Driscoll, a police spokeswoman. “That said, it was an important opportunity to remind cab drivers why we have a rule that dictates they must check the back of their cab after every fare.”
Cohen said the girl had been in the back of the van behind another seat and he could not see her from his rearview mirror or from the outside of the vehicle.
The cabbies’ union expressed outrage at the proposed suspension, saying the fault should lie with the child’s family, not the driver.
Police would not release the names of the parents but said they were not being investigated.
“I think the sad piece here is that the police are not recognizing the responsibility of the adults and are now saying this driver also has to be responsible for passengers who forget their children,” said Donna Blythe-Shaw, a staff representative for the United Steelworkers Boston Taxi Drivers Association.