An Encinitas woman whose leg was severely mangled when a cab jumped a curb, pinning her against a wall and injuring 34 others, was celebrating Valentine’s Day with her husband when the accident happened.
Dominique Gambale, 45, had asked her mother to baby-sit her 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old on Friday night while she celebrated Valentine’s Day a few days early with her husband.
The couple had booked a hotel for the evening downtown and were trying to decide whether to walk to the hotel or take a cab.
They decided to wait for a cab outside Stingaree on 6th Avenue.
It was just before 2 a.m. when Sam Hassan Daly, 52, drove an Emerald Cab up onto the sidewalk into the crowd of people exiting the club.
Gambale was pinned against the wall.
Initial reports stated that Gambale’s leg was severed. Hospital officials clarified on Monday that her leg was not severed, but severely injured.
"Mrs. Gambale has experienced an extreme crushing injury to her right leg, which was still attached at the time of her injury,” said Paul Girard, MD, orthopaedic surgeon. “In addition to a tibia fracture, she has a large open wound, which will require the care of a multidisciplinary team of top orthopedic, vascular and plastic surgeons."
Gambale is being treated at UC San Diego Medical Center.
“My care has been exceptional, and I have been amazed at the level of skill and comprehensive efforts provided by the trauma and orthopedic surgery team," said Gambale in a statement released Monday.
A 45-year-old man also sustained a fractured leg from the collision.
“Thirty-three other pedestrians were injured, either from the collision or the ensuing confrontation,” said Lt. Rick O'Hanlon.
Patrons attacked the driver of the cab and then other fights broke out among the patrons as some people tried to reach their friends and were held back, according to Maurice Luque, a spokesperson for San Diego Fire and Rescue.
Both firefighters and police officers described the situation as a "melee."
A witness said Daly was still sitting in the car when he got to the scene and that's when the crowd started to remove him from the car.
"They beat the s--t of out him," the man said. "Beat him up really bad."
“Daly sustained a fractured nose during the incident. It is not known at this time if Daly's injuries occurred from the collision or the post-collision disturbance,” said Lt. O'Hanlon.
It’s still a mystery as to why the cab lost control, according to police. Police say there is no evidence that Daly had been drinking, or broke any serious traffic laws.
"It was not a high speed collision at all. By high speed I'm talking 50, 40 miles an hour. It was not that. But again, the detectives are reconstructing the accident,” said Lt. O'Hanlon.
Daly, who has been driving taxis for at least two years, has not been arrested.
Daly’s friend says he is very conscientious about his work and very responsible.
"You know mostly he do everything for himself. A family man who want to help his family, who work hard and have a lot of family to support,” said cab driver George Abraham.
Records show the cab is registered to Makmar Enterprises, which is managed by Fata Arghand who runs several taxi-related businesses from an office on Kurtz Street, near the Sports Arena.
Arghand leased the cab to Daly, identified as an Egyptian immigrant, who was a doctor in his native country.
Taxi-drivers are licensed by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, and the industry is regulated by the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS.)
MTS told NBC San Diego there are no violations or complaints on record against either the taxi owner or the driver.
Police say their investigation could take weeks because there are so many witnesses to interview.