Chicago livery driver fends off knife attack

July 7, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Laroyce Southall, 39, says he was behind the wheel when a passenger put a knife to his throat and demanded money.

Southall says has been picking up fares for four years on the South and West Sides of Chicago in neighborhoods that are the toughest around.

He is in agonizing pain as he copes with the loss of several of his fingertips after he got an assailant's knife off his neck. The injuries are the result of fighting for one's life by grabbing a weapon pressed against the jugular.

"I had a grip on the knife and we were tugging back and forth and he just pulled real hard and it slid out of my hand and sliced two of my fingertips off, the palm, in between the thumb and index finger," said Southall.

Southall picked up his assailant, who was accompanied by two women, just past 1 a.m. on the West Side. In this car, he drove the three to the 700-block of N. Leclaire

"He had me going left, right, right left even that was something to cause someone to be suspicious," said Southall. "I get to the block, come to a stop, and this is when he pulls the knife, put it to my neck.

The man, who was in the passenger seat, demanded money. He got $30 - and a fight.

"I just didn't want him to cut my neck area, and that's all my goal was, to get that knife away from my neck," said Southall.

After disarming his attacker, Southall wrestled with him outside the vehicle. The suspect tried to get back in the car and retrieve at least one cell phone that was left inside, which is when Southall stabbed him.

"Just to get him away from me, I poked him in his back, but I don't think anything happened," said Southall.

The three ran off and Southall drove himself to a nearby hospital.

He splits his time between Chicago and Colorado and was planning to head back to the mountains next month. He hopes to still make the trip.

Despite his injuries, he says he may drive one more season in Chicago, but only in the winter, when he says there is less crime.

Southall says the result of the attack "really bothers me. When I saw my fingertips, they look deformed, and there is nothing on my body deformed, and now this."

According to the city's Business Affairs and Consumer Protection department, Southall does not have a livery licenses for himself or his car.

The head of the dispatch company, Shoreway Livery, a Mr. Push, did not return our calls for comment.

That company, like many others, has been around for generations, meeting a need that goes under-served by mainline cab companies.

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