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Investigation launched after cab drivers refuse to pick up man with disabilities

CALGARY- An investigation has been launched after drivers with a cab company refused to drive home a man with a walker, despite the involvement of police.

Carlos Salguero was walking his dog around 12:30 a.m. Monday near Stephen Avenue and 4 Street S.W., when he saw a man with a walker fall.

“My friend and I walked to get him up and help him cross the street. We tried to get him a cab, we asked him all kinds of questions and he had a hard time communicating,” Salguero remembers.

The man with disabilities had ‘Access Calgary’ identification on him, but Salguero says three Checker cabs refused to drive him home. One said his car wouldn’t fit the walker, while another van simply refused to stop.

Salguero called police in hopes that would help, but even officer’s efforts failed.

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“The cab plainly just refused to take him home. He said that he was too drunk and the cab took off with the guy still holding on to the back door.”

Advocacy groups say the incident is a clear human rights violation, and sensitivity training is needed for taxi drivers.

“I realize that the drivers have to protect themselves they are also vulnerable, but our persons with disabilities are also very vulnerable and shouldn’t be judged on what they see,” says Mezaun Lakha-Evin from the Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta.

The Calgary Cab Association says drivers can refuse an intoxicated passenger if there are safety concerns. Salguero says the man admitted to having a few drinks, but adds taxis are on the road to try and prevent impaired driving.

“Even if you’ve had a few drinks, you still need to get home somehow. And cabs should not refuse service to anyone. That’s just not right.”

Checker Cabs says it is trying to track down the drivers who were involved.

With files from Tracy Nagai