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A family's first trip to New York took a frightening turn after their cabbie sped away from police at Kennedy Airport. But a teen is now being hailed a hero after he helped nab the hustler cabbie. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.
A teenage boy from Panama is being credited by police with helping catch a suspect described as a hustler cabbie at John F. Kennedy Airport.
Early Tuesday afternoon, two Port Authority police officers saw the 17-year-old boy and his family get into a limo at JFK's Terminal 4.
"When we came here, he tell us he's a cab driver, so I thought why not, you know?" the boy, Aldo Sosa, recounted later.
But the police officers, recognizing the driver as a hustler who charges sky-high rates, jumped into their unmarked car to chase and then try to block him with their vehicle.
The driver, identified as Bhupinder Singh, 38, of Ridgewood, N.Y., put the car in reverse and sped away, according to Port Authority spokesman Al Della Fave.
He got as far as the Van Wyck Expressway when Sosa, sitting in the front seat, grabbed the steering wheel.
"My dad and I did what we were supposed to, just reflex kicked in and we just took the wheel and took the car to the side," said Sosa.
As Sosa and Singh struggled, the car finally hit a guardrail and stopped.
Della Fave said Singh jumped out of his limo and ran but officers Dante Castro-Recio and Robert Furey followed, tackling him in a grassy area next to the Van Wyck Expressway a few moments later.
Police said Singh has been arrested five times before Tuesday's incident for overcharging passengers. Last year, Port Authority police made 400 arrests of "hustler cabbies," so called because they are often not licensed to carry people and charge exorbitant prices.
But this may be the first time officers can say a passenger helped take down a cabbie.
"His parents were upset, but he was really proud of himself and what he accomplished," said Castro-Recio.
Singh is being charged with reckless endangerment, unlawful solicitation, resisting arrest and criminal trespass. No information on a lawyer was available.