Cabdriver accused of taking fares on terror ride

Monday, July 1, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A beer-drinking rookie cabdriver turned a routine ride into 90 minutes of terror for three passengers who furtively phoned police as the taxi careened through city streets at high speeds.

The trip ended with the driver's arrest in the parking lot of a car wash in suburban Grandview, about 10 miles south of the eastern Kansas City hotel where the three New Orleans men were staying.

"We've just been through the worst experience of our lives," passenger Clayton Lyons, 20, told the Kansas City Star on Saturday. "We've never been this scared. Ever."

Driver David S. Lane, 50, of Kansas City, was jailed in Belton on Saturday, charged with driving under the influence.

Doug Tystad, general manager of Metropolitan Transportation Services Inc., which includes Yellow Cab, said Saturday that Lane had been working for the company only three days. He said Lane had a valid driver's license and a valid taxicab livery permit issued by Kansas City on June 17, and said Lane's application did not list any criminal record.

"We apologize," Tystad said. "Obviously, this was a terrible incident. It's clearly not our policy to have drivers do this kind of thing."

Took off the wrong way

Lyons, Edward Simon, 21, and Jeremy Maggio, 18, had been in Kansas City for the week-long Skills USA/VICA national championships, a vocational skills competition.

They told police they had hailed a Yellow Cab outside a downtown hotel shortly before midnight Friday to take them to the Adam's Mark hotel, where they were staying -- a ride of about 15 minutes.

The cabdriver told them the ride would cost about $15. But once the men got in, Lyons said, the cab took off the wrong way -- and with a drunken passenger in the front seat.

They kept telling Lane he was going the wrong way, Lyons said. "He'd say, 'I know where to go.' He took us on the freeway twice and got off in residential neighborhoods going about 90."

Lyons said Lane and his front-seat passenger passed two 32-ounce cans of beer back and forth, and Lane talked about drinking whiskey earlier.

The men said they were so afraid that they considered jumping out.

"In Louisiana, cabdrivers are allowed to carry guns," Lyons said. "So we didn't know if he had a gun. We definitely feared for our lives, because the gas was running out and he said he had no money.

"He said we were going to be the last fare of the night and he needed $75 to pay for his cab. As soon as the gas ran out, we figured we were going to have to defend ourselves."

Kept calling police

Lyons said he tried calling police on his cell phone.

"I pretended to have a headache and would lean over and talk on the phone, and the other two would talk to him about music and stuff," Lyons said. "We called the cops three times, but since I had a cell phone, every time I got to a new tower, it would disconnect."

Eventually, police from Grandview, Raytown and Kansas City got calls.

"He was speeding the whole time," Lyons said. "The cops had to chase us for a long time to catch up with us. He kept going in circles. We were just giving out street names to the dispatcher."

Grandview police chief Bob Beckers said that when police stopped the cab, Lane got out stumbling, mumbling and with a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

The three men were taken finally taken to their hotel about 4 a.m. Saturday and left later in the day to return to New Orleans.

"We definitely will come back," Lyons said. "The cops were nice, everybody else was nice. But I'll tell you what: Next time, we're renting a car."

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