Sources: Driver Had 2 Moving Violation Convictions Last Year, 9 Cleared Suspensions


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent Bob Simon suffered fatal injuries when he was thrown from the back to the front of a livery cab on the West Side Highway, authorities said.

Around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Simon, 73, was in a Lincoln Town Car headed south when it careened out of control on the West Side Highway near 30th Street, police said.

Simon was headed to a medical lecture on Ebola in downtown Manhattan at the time of the accident, CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported.

An autopsy Thursday determined that the cause of Simon’s death was blunt force trauma to the head, torso and extremities with fractures and visceral injuries, according to the New York City Medical Examiner’s office. The manner of death was an accident.

MORE: Tributes Pour In For Bob Simon | A Look At Bob Simon’s Life, Via ’60 Minutes’ | Bob Simon On The Life & Times Of A Foreign Correspondent

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Thursday, a single flower provided a splash of color near the grim debris left over from the crash.

A state Department of Transportation inspector visited the intersection of 30th Street and the West Side Highway, while police looked for witnesses who could help them understand what happened in the moments leading up to the crash.

Simon was riding in a Skyline livery car driven by Abdul Reshad Fedahi, 44 – an immigrant from Afghanistan. Fedahi had a valid Taxi and Limousine Commission license and driver’s license.

He had two fairly recent traffic convictions – speeding in Ulster County last September, and disobeying a traffic device in Manhattan in January of last year. Going back several years, he had nine license suspensions – all of which have been cleared.

For at least the last four months, Fedahi had been living at the HELP-USA homeless shelter on Wards Island. Three sources told CBS2 that Fedahi was injured years ago and lost the use of his left arm.

Investigators believe Fedahi was driving a 2010 Lincoln Town Car south on the highway when he brushed against a Mercedes Benz sedan driven by Zaq Miller, 23, of New Rochelle.

Miller told investigators Fedahi suddenly accelerated forward and hit a pedestrian protection bollard.

The Lincoln was so mangled that first responders had to cut away the roof and doors to reach Fedahi and Simon. The NYPD said Simon was not wearing a seatbelt, and suffered fatal injuries when he was violently thrown from the back seat to the front of the car, CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported.

He was found unconscious with injuries to his head and abdomen, police said. Sources told CBS2 he was in cardiac arrest when he was found.

Rescuers had to cut the doors and the roof off the livery cab to get Simon out. He was taken to nearby St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Taxi passengers often forgo putting on their seatbelts in the back seat, but safety experts warned it is dangerous.

“Always wear a seatbelt in the back seat,” said AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair. “There’s a phenomenon known as the back-seat bullet. The vehicle runs into something, the vehicle stops, everybody with a seatbelt stops. If you don’t have a seatbelt, you keep going until you impact something. And it’s usually part of the vehicle.”

Fedahi was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center with arm and leg injuries, police said. He was reported in fair condition Thursday afternoon, according to a hospital spokeswoman. The Mercedes driver, Miller, was not injured.

Both drivers involved in the have also tested negative for alcohol, sources said.

The TLC suspended Fedahi’s livery driver’s license pending the outcome of the investigation, Rincon reported.

On Thursday, the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad also recovered the “black box” from the livery cab to determine how the vehicle was operating at the time of the crash, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.

The black box records speed, and takes note of whether the car’s lights were on and whether the brakes were applied and other details.

Police have not been able to find any surveillance video of the crash, but are looking for possible witnesses who could help shed light on what happened, sources said.

So far, no arrests have been made.

The investigation was ongoing late Thursday.