September 09, 2016 - 8:00 PM
'HE LEFT ME THERE TO BLEED TO DEATH.'
KAMLOOPS - Cal Huntington has lived in Kamloops for more than 40 years and has driven cabs off and on during his time in the city.
Nothing could have prepared him for the fare he picked up in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Aug. 24. He received a call to pick someone up at the Sahali Husky on Columbia Street W.
The man got in Huntington’s cab and asked him to go downtown.
"He was kind of quiet. He asked me to turn left on Pleasant. About halfway down the block he told me to stop."
Huntington says that’s when the man pulled out a knife with a four-inch blade.
"He just started swinging. This guy seemed normal so that’s why it was so surprising," Huntington says. "Being a cab driver, I’m pretty good at reading people. This guy showed no signs."
The Kami Cabs driver was stabbed four times.
"I looked down and all I saw was red."
At first, Huntington tried to defend himself. The man demanded cash and Huntington handed over around $115 to the suspect.
"After I gave him the money, he got out and ran. He left me there to bleed to death."
Huntington says he radioed the cab dispatch right away. He told them "911, 800 block of Pleasant Street" and he needed an ambulance.
Within about two or three minutes, RCMP were on scene. Huntington says the quick reaction time by the responding officers is was what saved his life.
One of the officers went to get a first-aid kit from his cruiser, but by the time he got it out the ambulance had arrived, and rushed Huntington to Royal Inland Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
"I remember everything up to the ambulance bay (at the hospital). That’s when I blacked out," Huntington says.
Huntington suffered two minor wounds to the left side of his chest, a serious wound on the right side of his chest which led to a collapsed lung and a wound to the neck. The neck wound caused an air bubble in a vein and he had a seizure as a result.
He was sedated and taken to the ICU, which is where he woke up two days later with seven different IVs and a chest tube. His family from across the province was sitting next to him. After spending six days in the hospital, he was released and gives thanks to the staff who took care of him.
"My body is still recovering but I’m doing good."
SAFETY POLICIES AND HUNTINGTON'S FUTURE AS A CAB DRIVER
Huntington has been driving cabs in Kamloops for the last nine years consecutively and says this was a completely unpredictable incident.
General manager of Kami Cabs Satinder Mann says he’s getting feedback from drivers on how they can improve their safety policies.
"This could not have been avoided. Everyone’s definitely more alert," Mann says.
Austin Eyres, 19, has been charged with aggravated assault in connection to the stabbing.
"I cannot forgive him for the trauma he caused my family, friends and coworkers. The trauma he caused them hurts me more than what I went through," Huntington says. "The pain and suffering he caused them was unforgivable."
The day after Huntington got out of the hospital, his coworkers were shocked to see him at the office walking and talking.
Yesterday, Sept. 8, Huntington had the last of his stitches taken out.
"All I can say, is thanks to the support from my family, friends and coworkers," Huntington says. "I have no worries about coming back to drive again and I fully plan to."
Huntington would like to return to work at the beginning of next month and he hopes his return will help put other drivers' minds at ease.
"Everyone thinks Kami (Cabs) and Yellow (Cabs) are rivals," Huntington says. “I’ve had (Yellow Cabs) pull up to me and say it’s really good to see me. We’re all taxi drivers, we’re all family.”
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