New troubling details are emerging about the livery cab driver who survived the fatal crash of journalist Bob Simon in a car accident this week.
Police have confirmed that the Lincoln Town Car transporting the longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent to a medical talk about Ebola on Wednesday night sped up before rear-ending the Mercedes-Benz in front of it and crashing into metal barricades on Manhattan’s West Side Highway.
Law enforcement officials have suggested that Simon’s driver, Abdul Reshad Fedahi, likely hit the gas pedal instead of the brake. But reports from the New York Post, the New York Daily News, and CBS New York question whether Fedahi should have been behind the wheel.
With less than a year as a livery driver under his belt, the 44-year-old Fedahi, an Afghan immigrant, still had a temporary Taxi and Limousine Commission license — which has since been temporarily suspended. But his rap sheet with the DMV is lengthy. Since November 2011, Fedahi’s driver’s license has reportedly been suspended nine times. According to DMV records, the suspensions resulted from his failure to respond to court summonses. Recent driving convictions include speeding in September and disobeying a traffic sign in January 2014.
Disconcerting driving record aside, a cousin revealed aspects of Fedahi’s past that raise questions about the driver’s mindset at the time of the accident. This wasn’t Fedahi’s first brush with death, according to Rauf Sharif, who told the New York Daily News that his cousin had survived a jump from the window of a Brooklyn building in 2004. The apparent suicide attempt followed Fedahi’s split from his wife.
“He was on a suicide mission,” Sharif told the Daily News. “He dropped himself from a building. I don’t know how many floors in Brooklyn. He went through hard days in his life.”
According to CBS New York, Fedahi had been living at a homeless shelter on Ward’s Island, off Manhattan. Three sources also confirmed to CBS New York that an injury had rendered his left arm useless many years ago.
Fedahi is reportedly in good condition at New York’s Bellevue Hospital Center, suffering arm and leg injuries in the crash. Sharif told the Daily News that, when he visited his cousin at Bellevue, Fedahi told him he’d had sharp chest pains and “blacked out” right before the crash. Police have dismissed suggestions that Fedahi suffered a heart attack, however, and are working on obtaining the Town Car’s “black box” to determine how fast the livery cab was actually going when it crashed.
Fedahi has not yet been charged with criminal wrongdoing. But, according to his cousin, the driver teared up when talking about Simon, who he said was a regular customer.