Friday, April 1, 2011

Behbahani told investigators that is when the brakes of the DeSoto Cab Co.’s Dodge Intrepid stopped working. It caught fire and slammed into a freeway

It may be a week before investigators determine the exact cause of the fiery taxi crash that killed two tourists from Cincinnati, the California Highway Patrol said Tuesday.

Investigators are looking at how much time elapsed between when the driver, Fageh Hassan Behbahani, 49, of Daly City, may have first smelled smoke, somewhere around Candlestick Park, and when he exited Interstate 280 at Mariposa Street around 11 a.m. Monday.

Behbahani told investigators that is when the brakes of the DeSoto Cab Co.’s Dodge Intrepid stopped working. It caught fire and slammed into a freeway pillar at 40 mph, CHP Officer Shawn Chase said.

“If I were in that situation, the prudent thing is to pull over and check it out right away. Try to get off the freeway,” Chase said. “But it’s still an open investigation.”

Behbahani has not been arrested, Chase said.

The cab driver may have bypassed several off-ramps in a 2-mile stretch before exiting I-280.

The married couple, Dennis, 61, and Karen Marshall, 59, had just arrived for a vacation in San Francisco and were en route from San Francisco International Airport to the Mark Hopkins hotel in Nob Hill.

Both died at San Francisco General Hospital.

Three sheriff’s deputies trailing in a county-owned car and van watched the crash and stopped to extinguish the flames and rescue the couple. The deputies — Zalady Ralleta, Robert Rood and Christopher Sheriff — all were treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation. Rood and Ralleta remained at St. Francis Memorial Hospital on Tuesday.

Behbahani, who has worked with DeSoto for six months, has a valid license and a clean record. Police said he checked himself out of San Francisco General Hospital on Monday despite medical advice to stay.

City code requires that cabs are inspected at least once a year with valid registration, brake certification and proof of insurance if they’re regular vehicles, and once every six months if they’re spares.

The Dodge passed its required inspection Jan. 10, with 286,000 miles on its engine.

1 comment:

  1. City code requires cabs be checked for brakes. Spares are checked every 6 months. Is this being done? I have worked as a cab driver for several years and can tell the public that some of the cars the city allows the taxi companies to drive on the street are unfit. Cab Companies on average charge their night drivers about 120.oo a night for a ten hour shift. You do the math. One day 240.00 a month, I think you get the picture. I drive cabs for years that smelled of fumes, and discovered through a doctor that the fumes I was inhaling is carbon monoxide. I dont know what condition this cab was in but most cabbies will tell you if you inhale these fumes, it does something to your brain. I urge investigators to see if this vehicle was checked, because remember the city gets money from these people who own the cabs. We need a thorough inspection of the cabs when they come in for safety checks and not just a once over. One more thing the Airport Inspection, should take the drivers more serious when they report the cab and not tell the company which driver reported it so they get fired. I think if you read this you get the picture of why the cabs are so awful in San Francisco.