Crime

‘It’s absolutely heartbreaking,’ Bellingham Taxi owner says of alleged attack of driver

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Bellingham police are investigating a reported attack of a 32-year-old male taxi driver that occurred early Friday, July 5, in the Roosevelt neighborhood.

According to information provided to The Bellingham Herald by Lt. Claudia Murphy, at approximately 2:26 a.m. Friday, a Bellingham Taxi driver was found assaulted in the 2600 block of Woburn Street.

The driver suffered serious enough facial injuries that he had to be taken to Harborview Medical Center, Murphy said.

“Detectives are working the case and looking for information to identify the suspect,” Murphy told The Herald.

Bellingham Taxi owner/operator Melissa Bowe told The Herald that she visited the driver in the Harborview Intensive Care Unit on Sunday, but she said doctors were hopeful he would be moved out of the ICU on Monday.

Bowe said the driver wishes to remain anonymous.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking,” Bowe told The Herald. “We’re a smaller taxi business. Everybody works together — we’re a small knit team.

“It’s a scary situation for anybody in the industry providing a service where people you don’t know get into your car like this.”

Community support

Bellingham Taxi first posted about the alleged attack Friday evening on its Facebook page. That post, which asked for anyone with information to contact police, had more than 130 comments at 1,600 shares.

On Saturday, Bowe and Linda Lane Manning started a fund for the assaulted driver on Facebook, which raised more than $1,100 toward a posted $5,000 goal in less than two days.

“We’re trying to raise funds for when he gets out,” Bowe told The Herald. “It’s not only going to be a physical, but also a financial and emotional roller coaster, and we’re just trying to help out any way we can.”

Bowe said a number of other taxi companies in Bellingham have reached out to offer their support.

Before Friday, Bowe said she had not heard of any taxi drivers being attacked and seriously injured in Bellingham since a 2014 knifepoint robbery of a Yellow Cab driver. The driver in that incident received a non-life-threatening, 2-inch cut to his neck, and police arrested two people.

Bowe said she hasn’t had any drivers express a desire to leave since Friday, “but I wouldn’t blame them if they said they could no longer drive at night.”

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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