Hanka Fogelman, 92, said she was put in the vehicle by the public transportation service with a man who turned violent. She claimed the cab driver knew the man could be trouble.
“The driver knew that he was aggressive … said not to talk to him. [He said] he’s aggressive. He’s a little dangerous,” Fogelman said, the CBC reported.
Laura Tamblyn Watts, an advocate for the elderly in Canada, said the incident constitutes a “failure of the entire system.” She said the system typically puts costs ahead of safety when it comes to serving seniors and the disabled.
Fogelman, a Holocaust survivor, was riding in a cab contracted by Société de transport de Montréal (STM) to visit one of her daughters on Nov. 11. That service uses paratransit buses and private cabs.
A police report said Fogelman was picked up at her home, and she said a woman was in the passenger seat while the male suspect was in the back.
A few minutes into the trip, the male suspect got violent, the elderly woman said.
A photo published by the CBC shows Fogelman with cuts and two black eyes sitting in a hospital bed.
(WARNING: Graphic photo)
"The driver knew that he was aggressive … said not to talk to him … He's a little dangerous."Senior beaten by another passenger while taking transit for the elderly and disabled.
“He started hitting me. Punching me,” Fogelman recalled to the CBC.
“The blood started coming out from my nose. I didn’t know what to do.”
According to Fogelman’s daughter, the driver had written: “The two hadn’t even spoken to each other before this happened,” as reported by the CBC.
“The young man had been writing quietly on a piece of paper, when he suddenly hit the client seated to his right, without any apparent reason,” the daughter said.
Montreal police spokesperson Insp. Andre Durocher later said the suspect has an intellectual disability and will not be charged with a crime.
“She had a broken nose. Lacerations on her face… Black and blue,” said daughter Debbie Rona, who had to fly to Montreal from British Columbia, Canada.
“I feel angry. I feel shocked,” Rona added to the CBC. “I look at my mother and she’s so mentally aware, but there’s physical vulnerability there. Why was he even in the taxi? Why would the taxi driver have sat my mother next to him and closed the door and started driving?”
The CBC said it spoke with another cab driver for STM, who didn’t want to be identified, and he said attacks are rare.
“According to the STM, they are not transporting people who are violent—is it 100 percent true? Definitely not,” the driver said.
STM spokesperson Philippe Dery also issued a statement to the CBC about the attack.
“We can assure you that at the time of the incident, nothing led us to believe that the customer was in danger by being paired with the other customer,” he said.
Dery said the service pairs customers according to their location and where they are traveling.
“The driver simply wanted to ensure a smooth trip,” Déry wrote in response.
He added: “Some customers may be tempted to socialize with others who may exhibit disorganized behavior in certain situations. Most of our drivers frequently do this simply as a preventative measure.”
After spending about a month in rehabilitation, Fogelman said she still hasn’t fully healed.
“I’m still not feeling strong … it’s in my mind. You know, what I went through … I’m thinking, why did it happen? You know. It shouldn’t have happened,” she said.
According to the U.S. National Institute on Aging, “Abuse can happen to anyone—no matter the person’s age, sex, race, religion, or ethnic or cultural background. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited. This is called elder abuse.”
It added that most victims of elder abuse are women, but some are also men.
“Likely targets are older people who have no family or friends nearby and people with disabilities, memory problems, or dementia. Abuse can happen to any older person, but often affects those who depend on others for help with activities of everyday life—including bathing, dressing, and taking medicine. People who are frail may appear to be easy victims,” the agency says.