A young civil engineer was in a coma last night after a hit-and-run MUSLIM cabby mowed him down in front of a Midtown police station during a dispute about going to The Bronx, authorities said.
NY POST –Anthony Loreto Jr., 22, (Photo below)was with his pals Frank Lembo, Joe Hladki and Richard Kelly when they flagged down the yellow cab at West 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue at around 4 AM and asked for a ride to their homes in The Bronx.
But the driver, Mohammed Azam, 27, allegedly didn’t want to make the trip and pulled over to argue with his passengers.
The mayhem unfolded just days after the Bloomberg administration proposed increasing the penalty on cabbies who refuse service.
“I don’t understand the driver,” fumed the victim’s dad, Anthony Loreto Sr. “My son jumped on the hood so he wouldn’t get run over. . .He drove with my son on the hood about three-quarters down the block, made a turn and flung him off.”
“I said, ‘We all have cash on us, even credit cards,’ ” Hladki told WABC/Channel 7. “He was like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to make no money on this,’ ” Hladki claimed. “I told him, ‘We’re going to The Bronx. We’ll give you a good tip. Just get us home.’ “
Instead, Azam drove two blocks to the Midtown North precinct station house on West 54th Street. Officers told the driver it was against the law to refuse the trip, sources said.
But Azam got back into his vehicle and locked the doors before the men could get inside. The suspect backed up, striking one of the pals be fore lurching forward, smashing into Loreto and Lembo and fleeing the scene, police and relatives said.
“His leg was twisted in the wrong direction,” said witness, Trevor Stephen, who works at the nearby Gristedes. Loreto, his skull fractured, was rushed to New York Hospital and put into a medically induced coma.
“He’ll be OK,” his dad said. “We can’t fall apart. We gotta be strong for him.” He described his only son as a hardworking recent grad of Manhattan College. “Ever since his mother died [when he was 16], he’s been determined to do the right thing.”
Two of Loreto’s friends were also struck, but not as seriously injured as he was.
Azam was nabbed at his Queens home last night and charged with vehicular assault and leaving the scene of an accident, police said.
(I make it a habit in NYC to avoid getting in cabs with Muslim-looking drivers. They usually smell bad, too)