Cab driver recalls vicious stabbing

A Toronto taxi driver told CBC News on Wednesday how he was stabbed multiple times by a passenger in a Valentine's Day attack and left to die in a pool of blood.
The attack on cab driver Khalil Talke has sent ripples through the city's taxi industry. (CBC)

A Toronto taxi driver told CBC News on Wednesday how he was stabbed multiple times and had his throat slit "like a chicken" by a passenger who left him for dead in a pool of blood.

Fighting back tears during an exclusive interview, Khalil Talke, 57, recounted the Valentine's Day attack that nearly claimed his life and sent ripples through the city's taxi industry.

In happened just after 8 p.m. ET on Feb. 14 when Talke, a cab driver for 17 years, picked up a fare at the Downsview subway station. The man asked to be taken to a street in the area of Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue West.

The passenger directed Talke — a native of Eritrea and father of four — to a row of abandoned houses on a dark street. Talke pulled into a driveway to turn around, when his passenger made a sudden and threatening move in the back seat.

Recovering in hospital

"I see some movement in the back," Talke told the CBC's Muhammad Lila from Sunnybrook Hospital, where he is recovering from his wounds. "Quickly, he moved to driver's side behind me. I saw from the mirror he just pulled a knife, come back and slaughtered me."

The attacker, who remains at large, stabbed Talke in the head, throat and mouth, partially severing his tongue. In the struggle, Talke was able to deflect some of the blows by extending his left arm, which was also badly cut.

"I was scared I would get killed," Talke told Lila. "God gives me that moment to be more stronger than that big guy."

A photo taken from the cab's security camera shows the man police are seeking in the stabbing attack of driver Khalil Talke (Toronto Police)

Seconds after the stabbing, the attacker fled, leaving Talke to tumble out of the cab where he was found by passersby who called police.

Police have released a description of the attacker and a photo taken by the cab's security camera. He is described as between 20 and 30 years of age with an Eastern European accent. He was last seen wearing a ski jacket.

Facing licence fight

Although Talke managed to fend off his attacker, he faces another fight, this time to regain his taxi licence.

Of Toronto's 8,000 licensed cabbies, 1,500, including Talke, operate on what are called Ambassador licences.

Unlike standard cab plates, the city doesn't allow Ambassador drivers to rent out their licence to other drivers. If a driver is injured or too sick to work, the licence must be returned to the city.

Talke told CBC News he feels he's been being victimized twice, first by his attacker and now by the city's bylaws.

The head of one of the city's taxi associations agreed, calling on Mayor Rob Ford to personally intervene.

"It is unfair to all the workers in the taxi industry," said Abdi Dirshe, of the iTaxi Workers Association. "He should be able to continue earning an income while he is sick."

"This should be No. 1 priority for the mayor: To step in, come to the hospital, visit Mr. Talke and reassure him that he will do everything possible to get him back to work."

Talke's attack prompted Toronto taxi drivers to call for stiffer penalties for those who attack drivers. 

"I'm one of the luckiest ones," Talke told CBC. "This is people's lives. People come to work, they shouldn't be attacked."