NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 56-year-old cab driver has been missing since May 11th, and on Tuesday police were sifting through clues about what could have led up to his disappearance.
The taxi union says it may be related to a “mental health crisis” among yellow cab drivers that’s emerged on the heels of the rise of ride-sharing apps.
Li Xian Chow showed CBS2’s Ali Bauman the now unused yellow cab parked outside her home in Queens, eleven days after her husband, Yumein Chow, drove off to start his shift.
“I cannot do nothing but declare bankruptcy,” she said.
Chow reported her 56-year-old husband missing on May 11th after he wasn’t answering the phone hours after he usually stops collecting fares. Police found his taxi parked on East 86th Street by the river.
Yumein was nowhere to be found. She says she doesn’t know if he’s alive.
“I’m very scared,” she added.
Chow says her husband, named Kenny, bought he cab five years ago. The money was good at first, but then ride-sharing apps brought more competition. It caused Kenny to fall behind on medallion loan payments.
Combine that with his wife’s health problems, he became depressed and unable to sleep.
“He worried about money, he worried about my life, he’s worried our daughter has not grown up yet. She’s still in school,” Chow said.
Before disappearing, Yumein owed $700,000 on his medallion. Bhairavi Desai from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance estimates it would have put his monthly expenses between five to six thousand dollars.
“He has to earn that just to break even, with his operating expenses, before he takes anything home for himself,” she added.
The Taxi Workers Alliance says many for-hire drivers see a bleak future.
“Since December, four drivers, two livery drivers, a black car driver, and a yellow cab driver have all committed suicide,” Desai said. “It’s been because of the financial crisis. There’s a deepening poverty across the workforce.”
Li Xian is not making any assumptions as police continue searching for her missing husband.
“I’ve been waiting for him to come home, and hope he comes home quickly,” she said.
The driver also has a daughter who’s away at college. The family and investigators ask that anyone with information give the NYPD a call.