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Cab driver killed in early morning Vancouver crash with Car2Go; speed and alcohol suspected

Click to play video 'Young cab driver killed by suspected drunk driver in East Vancouver' Young cab driver killed by suspected drunk driver in East Vancouver
The police watchdog agency has been called in after a suspected impaired driver allegedly evaded a Vancouver police roadblock before a deadly crash that killed a young cab driver. Grace Ke reports – Dec 29, 2019

Vancouver police say a 28-year-old taxi driver is dead following a collision early Sunday morning.

Friends and coworkers have since identified the victim as Sanehpal Singh Randhawa, who they described as a “decent” and “kind” man.

The crash happened around 3:30 a.m. in the intersection of East First Avenue and Renfrew Street.

Police believe a Car2Go smartcar collided with a Yellow Cab carrying two passengers.

READ MORE: 40-year-old man killed in 2-vehicle collision on Vancouver-Burnaby border

The VPD says the driver of the taxi died from his injuries, the driver of the Car2Go remains in hospital in serious condition, and the two passengers have non-life-threatening injuries.

The force of the crash sent the taxi into the Royal Bank on First Avenue, damaging the building.

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VPD spokesperson Const. Steve Addison said CPR was performed on both drivers, and that the cab driver died in hospital.

READ MORE: ‘100% preventable’: B.C. police launch CounterAttack against impaired holiday drivers

“This is very sad,” he said. “It’s sad, it’s senseless and it didn’t need to happen.”

The BC Coroners Service confirmed it was investigating the fatality, but would not provide additional details.

The VPD believes speed and alcohol were factors, adding that they think the Car2Go driver, a man in his 20s, may have run a red light and T-boned the taxi.

No charges have been laid in the incident. Addison said it will “take some time to complete” the investigation before that step is taken.

Click to play video 'CounterAttack Campaign' CounterAttack Campaign
CounterAttack Campaign – Nov 28, 2019

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has also been called in, as police believe the Car2Go driver may have evaded officers at a CounterAttack roadblock prior to the collision.

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Addison could not say where exactly the roadblock was located, only that it was in East Vancouver.

He said officers had an “interaction” with the Car2Go driver, but wouldn’t go into details.

READ MORE: Coroner’s report into 2015 fatal Yellow Cab crash reveals driver impaired by drugs and booze

The IIO is mandated to investigate whether police action or inaction played a role in any serious incident involving injuries or death.

A spokesperson for the IIO said it has not yet determined whether to deploy an investigator, saying it was still reviewing whether the case falls under its mandate.

Driver engaged to be married

Yellow Cab president Kulwant Sahota said he heard about the accident through dispatch and other taxi drivers who attended the scene.

He added Randhawa had been working with the company since 2015, calling him an “excellent driver” without any issues.

“We’re grieving,” he said. “It’s a tragedy for Yellow Cab, and my wishes go out to the passengers as well.

“I’ve been with Yellow Cab for about 25 years, and this is the first time I can remember about a death in a Yellow Cab. I have so many guys who are distraught. We know everyone who’s working, we’re a family.”

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READ MORE: Victoria taxi driver killed in crash, 3 passengers injured

Sahota said Randhawa’s family is in India, and have been notified. He added Randhawa’s father recently visited his son in B.C.

Friends said Randhawa was engaged to be married, but did not have information about his fiance.

“He was a very decent guy,” Jot Multani said on the phone from Ontario, adding he knew Randhawa when they lived together in Brampton.

“He was very respectful towards others, just very decent. Very kind.”

READ MORE: Burrard Bridge reopens following fatal fiery overnight crash

A fellow Yellow Cab driver who did not share his name said Randhawa taught him the ropes of the job when he started two years ago.

“When I started driving, he teach me how to work,” he said. “He helped me get my first cab.

“I don’t want to work today. I think about my family, how they would feel if I was lost … how [his family] feel, I can understand.”
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Click to play video 'Co-workers looking for family of taxi driver killed in a single motor vehicle accident' Co-workers looking for family of taxi driver killed in a single motor vehicle accident
Co-workers looking for family of taxi driver killed in a single motor vehicle accident – Aug 27, 2019

East First Avenue was shut down between Kaslo and Nootka streets for several hours Sunday morning.

This is Vancouver’s 14th traffic-related fatality this year.

Police are asking anyone who witnessed the crash, including anyone with dashcam video, to contact VPD.

—With files from Grace Ke