No Word From TLC on Whether Cabbie Who Injured 5 and Claimed “Medical Episode” Still Drives a Cab

What is the Taxi and Limousine Commission doing to ensure that drivers with medical conditions don’t cause harm?

If the TLC driver who caused this crash has a medical condition that affects his ability to drive, the public needs to know if he’s still operating a cab. Image via WNBC
If the TLC driver who caused this crash has a medical condition that affects his ability to drive, the public needs to know if he’s still operating a cab. Image via WNBC

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is not talking about a collision between two TLC-licensed drivers that injured four bystanders in Lower Manhattan earlier this month, though one driver claimed to have a medical condition that contributed to the crash.

On December 7 a for-hire driver in a Lincoln sedan crashed into a Ford SUV affiliated with Uber on Liberty Street at Broadway. The Lincoln driver then careened down Liberty, striking a third vehicle before coming to a stop on the sidewalk.

Five people — three pedestrians, one person on a bike, and the Uber driver — were hurt. The Lincoln driver, identified by the Daily News as Gil Villamar, told police an unspecified “medical episode” caused him to crash. NYPD filed no charges.

It’s not unusual for a cab driver to blame a medical condition after a serious crash. NYPD often cites “medical episode” as a license to wreak havoc with a motor vehicle without repercussion.

But such crashes can result in criminal charges, if a driver is believed to have knowingly put others at risk by neglecting to take medication.

In November, green cab driver Emilio Garcia pled guilty to homicide for killing two people, including a 5-year-old girl, on a Bronx sidewalk after he stopped taking his epilepsy medication. Despite his condition, the TLC failed to prevent Garcia from driving a cab, even after he was involved in an earlier crash.

The Villamar crash should have triggered an inquiry into his medical history. Was he previously aware of his condition? Did he report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the TLC? Was he taking any required medications? It’s unknown if NYPD or the TLC pursued answers to those essential questions.

On December 13, we asked the TLC if the agency had determined whether Villamar had a medical episode, as claimed, and if his presumed condition affects his ability to safely operate a cab.

When a TLC spokesperson replied that NYPD had not yet informed the agency about the circumstances of the crash, we asked, given the possibility of another episode behind the wheel, whether the TLC debriefs drivers who cite a medical condition following a crash, rather than wait on the results of a police investigation, which can take months.

We also asked if Villamar is driving a cab while NYPD and the TLC continue to sort things out. The TLC has yet to respond.

On a separate but related note, here’s a partial list of violations attached to the Uber SUV Villamar crashed into:

  • June 2016: Failure to stop at a red light, Brooklyn
  • June 2016: Bus lane violation, Manhattan
  • November 2016: Speeding in a school zone, Brooklyn
  • December 2016: Speeding in a school zone, Bronx
  • February 2017: Bike lane violation, Manhattan
  • April 2017: Failure to stop at a red light, Brooklyn
  • June 2017: Failure to stop at a red light, Queens
  • July 2017: Speeding in a school zone, Queens
  • September 2017: Speeding in a school zone, Bronx

According to Uber, the SUV is operated by more than one driver. (NYPD did not release the name of the person driving the SUV on December 7.) We asked the TLC for confirmation. If one person is responsible for those violations, we also wanted to know if that driver has ever faced TLC license sanctions.

Almost two weeks after the crash, we’re still waiting for a TLC response.

  • Vooch

    maybe he is now Marty Golden’s driver ?

  • Barry Grant

    I’m willing to bet there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to corroborate the driver’s claim that he had a medical episode, and that the NYPD let him go scot free purely on the basis of that claim without needing any such evidence. I’m also willing to bet the fact that medical episode claims being a guaranteed get out of jail free card for drivers is common knowledge and freely discussed among taxi drivers in the city. These guys talk amongst each other and I would also bet that they have online communities in which they discuss things like how to get out of tickets and other charges. I’m also willing to bet that Fernando Mateo has advised drivers to make these claims. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read about a taxi driver losing control, killing or maiming people, and then claiming they had a medical episode. Such stories are usually accompanied by witness claims that they were “angered” by another driver and made an aggressive maneuver in response, and indeed that was the consensus among witnesses in this incident until the NYPD put a stop to it by declaring the driver’s word as final.

  • Driver

    TLC drivers should be required to complete bi-annual or annual medical exams equivalent to the DOT exam required of truck drivers.

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