Aspen taxi driver assaulted, cops say |

Aspen taxi driver assaulted, cops say

Joel Stonington
Aspen Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” A taxi driver allegedly was assaulted Monday morning during an argument over a pack of cigarettes.

John McDonald, 44, of Bayside, N.Y., was arrested on charges of second-degree assualt and held on a bond of $5,000. He has not yet appeared in court.

Police arrived at the Aspen Store at 5:07 a.m. Monday to find McDonald standing by the open door of the taxi with blood covering his hands and the taxi driver bleeding from the face, said Sgt. Bill Linn.

“Apparently all this started earlier in the evening,” said Linn, adding that alcohol was a factor. “[McDonald] was on a search for cigarettes.”

According to police, the taxi driver took McDonald to the Little Nell hotel, but McDonald was not able to find cigarettes there. When McDonald came out of the hotel, police said the driver had already left.

Officer Matt Burg, who eventually arrested McDonald, was approached by McDonald during the early morning hours about where to get cigarettes and Burg directed him to the Aspen Store.

According to Linn, when McDonald left the Aspen Store with cigarettes, the taxi driver was filling up with gas at a pump outside.

“The end result was the beating up of the taxi driver,” said Linn. “[McDonald] claimed he had punched the driver because the driver had tried to rip him off.”

The name of the taxi driver was withheld by police; Todd Gardner, owner of High Mountain Taxi, declined to name him.

“I can’t talk at this point,” Gardner said. “We’re not far enough in the investigation, but it’s horrible. It’s out of character for this town and the level of violence is just out of control in this town. It’s just horrible for drivers.”

This is the second assault on a High Mountain taxi driver in less than a year. The first occurred on July 30, when an Oklahoma man allegedly assaulted taxi driver Paul Nesvat and stole his cab.

Brooks Mims Talton III, 41, has been charged with motor vehicle theft, driving under the influence and misdemeanor assault. The case against Talton is on hold in district court until Talton finishes a voluntarily alcohol treatment program.

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