RYE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A cab driver was in police custody, and his passenger was in the hospital, after police said a violent fight led to a crash early Friday morning in Rye.

As CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported, the driver is accused of stabbing his customer before the cab crashed.

The yellow taxi crashed into a tree around 1:20 a.m. on Highland Road and Purchase Street.

Moments later, the cabbie was in the back of a police car while his passenger, bleeding and badly injured, was taken away from the scene in an ambulance — but not because of the crash, CBS2’s Doris reported.

A man named Daron was walking his dogs and saw it unfold.

“Once it crashed, it looked like someone had fallen out and I started walking towards the car to see if it needed help but then when I got a closer look, I realized it was two someones and not one someone and those two were fighting rather aggressively,” he said.

But it wasn’t just fists that were flying. Police said the 61-year-old cab driver, Frankie Phelps, stabbed his customer as they argued about the route.

“There was a dispute in the cab, apparently over the direction of travel,” said Rye Police Commissioner Michael Corcoran Jr.

The Rye police station is less than a half mile away from the crash site. Officers arrived immediately to help the victim and make an arrest.

“Put one person in the car, the other person was lying on the ground and an ambulance came right away,” said Daron.

The driver was in custody Friday afternoon and was looking at serious charges.

“Potentially up to assault first degree, weapons possession charges,” said Corcoran. “That can range up to 25 years in prison. Very serious offenses.”

The cab driver allegedly told police that the customer refused to pay and wouldn’t get out of the taxi before the fight broke out.

The driver works for Reliable Taxi in Mount Vernon. He was arraigned Friday morning and was being held at the Westchester County Jail on $100,000 bail.

The 29-year-old victim was taken to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla and is expected to be OK.


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