LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Lewis Gray has been driving taxis for 25 years. A seasoned veteran behind the wheel, he knows firsthand just how dangerous the job can be.
“About 15 years ago I got hit in the head with a piece of pipe by somebody that I was driving,” Gray told WINK News Wednesday.
“You have to be on your toes, you have to be aware.”
The most recent attack on a cab driver happened to Gray’s coworker, 72-year-old Bob Fonock. Fonock claims he was ambushed, beaten and robbed during a pick-up in Fort Myers around 4 a.m. Monday.
“It’s unfortunate because horrible people seem to be out at horrible times of the night, and taxi drivers are out all night,” said Michael Griffin, co-owner of SWFL Transportation Group, where Fonock and Gray both work.
Griffin says his 120 drivers have been on high alert since the attack, and he took time to remind them of safety protocols.
“Keep the doors locked, stay in the car if at all possible. If you don’t trust the situation, do not pick the person up,” said Griffin.
While attacks on cabbies may be rare, they do happen, but Griffin says his drivers can’t live in fear.
“If you treated everybody like they were out there to hurt us, it would be a hard business to be in.”
Fort Myers police are still searching for the people who attacked Fonock. Because Fonock is an independent contractor, Griffin’s company is not liable for his injuries. However, more than $6,000 has been raised for his medical bills by friends, coworkers and the community.
If you’d like to donate to Fonock’s recovery fund, click here.