Memorial held for cab driver killed in alleged street race

Hundreds of Toronto cabdrivers took time away from their shifts on Saturday to attend a memorial for a colleague who died in what police allege was a teenage street-racing accident.

Hundreds of Toronto taxi drivers took time away from their shifts on Saturday to attend a memorial for a colleague who died in a street-racing accident that resulted in charges against two teens.

Tahir Khan, a 46-year-old immigrant from Pakistan, was killed on Jan. 24 when a Mercedes-Benz slammed into his taxicab and smashed it into a light pole.

Police say two cars were racing through a posh Toronto neighbourhood when one of the vehicles hit Khan's cab. Investigators say a copy of a popular video game simulating car races was found in one of the cars.

Khan's co-workers, friends and others gathered for a traditional Muslim memorial at a Toronto mosque on Saturday. He was remembered as a man who came to Canada six years earlier with the dream of forging a better life.

"All of the friends and family are here because he was such a loving person," said Rashid Qazi, a friend. "He was a gentleman, as far as I've known him. He was a very hard-working person."

"He was a very nice person," said Ahmad Malik, a taxi driver who knew Khan. "Very, very kind and very down to earth, a humble guy."

Khan was to be sworn in as a Canadian citizen only days after his death and he had saved money to bring his wife to Canada from Pakistan.

"His dream was about to start and he had saved money for his family," said Toronto Mayor David Miller, who also paid tribute to the arduous conditions faced by cabbies.

"Being a cab driver in this city ... is a tough profession. It's a difficult profession to earn money in. It's a profession where your safety is often at risk."

Some people at the memorial applauded when Ontario's immigration minister, Michael Colle, said he would work with Ottawa to ensure that Khan's dream still came true.

"I fully support and will endeavour to ensure that there is a posthumous citizenship given to Tahir Khan. And if we can facilitate with the federal government any way of having his family come to Canada, if they so wish."

Former private-school classmates Alexander Ryzanov and Wang-Piao Dumani Ross, both 18, were arrested shortly after the crash. They were charged with criminal negligence causing death and remained in custody.

One of the suspects was also charged with failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

Khan's body was carried out of the mosque draped in a simple green cloth inscribed with verses from the Koran. In a few days, his body will be flown back to Pakistan.