Huffpost New York

Cabbie Ran Down Three Men After Fare Dispute, Police Say

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MANHATTAN -- A recent Manhattan College grad is in a coma after being run over by taxi driver, who allegedly refused to take him and his friends to the Bronx, according to several published reports.

Anthony Loreto Jr., 22, and three friends hailed a taxi at West 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue around 4 a.m. Sunday morning, police told the New York Post.

But the driver, identified by police as Mohammed Azam, 27, reportedly refused to take them to their homes in the Bronx and instead drove them to the Midtown North Precinct station house on West 54th Street.

When they got there, police told Azam that he was obligated to take the men to their destination, but the driver -- a medical student, who drove part-time, according to his brother -- got back in his car and locked the doors, the Post reported.

Azam then backed up, hitting one of his former passengers, and drove forward, striking Loreto and his childhood friend, Frank Lembo, police told the paper.

"Luckily, I grabbed onto the hood, my friend Anthony was not lucky, when the taxi driver was speeding he hits the breaks, my friend Anthony flew off. I eventually fell off, Anthony fell off and was knocked unconscious," Lembo told WABC of the incident later that morning.

Loreto was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell, where he was in critical but stable condition, with a broken leg and fractured skull, according to the Daily News. The Post reported Monday morning that Loreto had been put into a medically induced coma.

Azam was arrested at his home in Jackson Heights Sunday night, charged with one count of vehicular assault and three counts of leaving the scene of an accident, the New York Times said.

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