Hit and run could jail Stinson taxi driver

10/10/2013

After a 17-mile hike on Mt. Tamalpais in August, Jeff Ng returned to his car in Stinson Beach to find a large black streak on his bumper and a California Highway Patrol officer with questions. The person he believes hit his car had left no contact information, had allegedly hung up on a phone call with the officer and has since refused to take his car to the insurance company for a settlement.

John Posadas, the owner of A West Marin Taxi, was charged with a misdemeanor hit and run in county court on Monday after allegedly colliding with Mr. Ng’s parked car on August 18. 

Mr. Posadas appeared late and without a lawyer for his arraignment. If he is convicted, he could be sentenced to six months in county jail and fined up to $1,000. The Marin General Services Authority, which issues permits for taxi drivers, may also begin a process to revoke his license. 

Mr. Ng, an engineer for Ancestry.com who lives in San Francisco, had left his Subaru on Belvedere Avenue, near the Redwoods Haus B&B, which Mr. Posadas owns. Around 3:40 p.m., Mr. Posadas drove onto the street from the highway, turned around his Ford Focus taxi and pulled in front of Mr. Ng’s car to park, according to three firemen who watched from the station across the street. 

The witnesses said Mr. Posadas appeared to hit Mr. Ng’s car, rocking the taxi from side-to-side and setting off the Subaru’s alarm. He was then seen running into his house before coming back to his car and driving south on the highway. He did not leave any contact information. 

Mr. Posadas says he parked on the street, but denies hitting any cars. He said he stopped at the inn to grab his cell phone and proceeded to transport a German couple to Muir Beach. “The police report had some colorful language. They said I ‘fled the scene,’” Mr. Posadas said. “They called it a ‘hit and run.’ Hahaha!”

A California Highway Patrol officer later noted damage to the left front bumper of Mr. Ng’s car and attempted to contact Mr. Posadas by phone. According to the officer, Mr. Posadas refused to provide his insurance information—grounds for an infraction—and hung up mid-conversation, stating that he would call back. Further calls went directly to voicemail, the officer said. Mr. Posadas blamed the “bad, really bad” cell phone reception in West Marin. “I usually can’t hear half of what they say,” he added.

Around 9:30 p.m., Mr. Posadas returned the officer’s call and said he would arrive at the CHP station in 45 minutes. He arrived more than an hour late, around 11:45 p.m., the officer said. 

The taxi had scratches on the right side, seemingly consistent with the accident, another officer noted. Mr. Posadas maintains that the taxi would have had a dent, not scratches, if he had hit Mr. Ng’s front bumper.

Mr. Posadas also told the officer that he had been prescribed bifocals, but added that he wears them only when his vision acts up. 

Between 1989 and 2011, Mr. Posadas was charged with 13 criminal misdemeanors, county records show, though he has not been convicted for either of the current charges. 

“There is a systemized attack on me,” Mr. Posadas said. “Why? Because the fact is I speak my mind. I got my own sight.” 

He said the witnesses have long held personal grudges against him, particularly for an old habit of playing his trumpet when the weather was nice. “They sit there across the street, a whole bunch of them, looking at the house,” he said of the firemen. “It’s kind of sickening. It’s sickening and scary.”

Mr. Ng’s car was fixed on Saturday to the tune of $1,680. “This incident will hopefully cost him much more in the long run,” Mr. Ng said.

Mr. Posadas said he has been in the courtroom enough that he will stick it out for the long haul, even if it means going to trial. “They said the best deal was to plead guilty on both counts. Hahaha!” he laughed. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get community service.”