taxi.jpgThe Examiner is reporting that CHP will not recommend that the cab driver behind the wheel in a fiery crash that killed two tourists from Ohio be charged with murder, but in the end, it’s up to the DA’s office to decide what, if any charges, he’ll face in the accident.

It was mid-June when Cincinnati residents Karen Marshall, 59, and her husband Dennis, 61, hailed a DeSoto Cab Co. taxi after landing at San Francisco International Airport.

They were on their way to downtown San Francisco on Interstate Highway 280 when the taxi driver smelled smoke north of Candlestick Park, CHP spokesman Shawn Chase said at the time of the accident.

Although the driver decided to pull off at the Mariposa Street exit, about two miles down the road, the vehicle’s brakes failed while navigating the turn. The vehicle, moving at 40 mph, crashed into a highway support pillar and burst into flames, Chase said.

Three SF sheriff’s deputies who had been driving on the highway at the time of the crash, followed the smoking taxi, and ran to pull the victims from the burning wreckage. The deputies, Zalady Ralleta, Robert Rood and Christopher Sheriff, were received minor injuries in the fire.

According to the Medical Examiner’s office, the Marshalls died due to multiple blunt-force injuries from the accident, and 50-year-old driver Faegh Behbahani was the only survivor.

Since he smelled smoke and continued to drive, CHP said at the time of the crash that he might be facing murder charges. A CHP spokesperson has since said that they will not recommend murder charges in the accident.

“In order for there to be second-degree [murder], you have to have malice” CHP Lt. Dane Lobb told the Ex “And we didn’t see there was sufficient evidence to support malice,” nor was the driver determined to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. “It could be manslaughter. It could be whatever criminal charges the DA sees fit.”

Cab drivers who pick up fares at SFO have been under increased scrutiny, as the SF Airport Commission recently raised concerns that the current incentive program that waives a $4 fee for cab drivers who return to the airport in less than 30 minutes and allows them to wait in a priority line encourages speeding.

A proposal to eliminate that incentive for speed was tabled after protesting cab drivers flooded a Commission meeting discussing the program.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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