Cab driver killed on last day of work

April 23, 2008 3:37:38 PM PDT
A Philadelphia cab driver in North Philadelphia knew the risks of his job and wanted out, but before he had a chance to leave, he ran into the very danger that he was trying to escape on his very last day at work.Byron Elder's brother, 46-year-old Benjamin, was found dead Sunday in the cab he drove. A resident discovered Benjamin slumped over in the taxi he drove for Germantown Cab Company just before 9:30 at 20th & Berks Streets. He'd been shot behind the ear.

"My heart is broken," Byron said.

"My heart just dropped because me and my brother were very, very close," Robert Elder said.

Robert Elder describes his oldest brother as a hard working, athletic, kind, family man. Robert says Ben talked about the dangers of the night shift, but needed the money.

"He said at night he makes more money than day, that's why he's working at night," Robert said.

Ben Elder's money and jewelry were not taken. No suspects have surfaced.

Police don't know if his murder started as a robbery. Relatives say Sunday was supposed to be Ben Elder's last day driving a taxi. After three and a half years, efforts to find a safer job were about to pay off after this last shift.

"This weekend was his last weekend driving a cab. He was supposed to work at the airport doing maintenance on Monday," Robert said.

The Taxi Workers Alliance says three Philadelphia area cab driver murders in the last year illustrate the dangers involved every time a driver climbs behind the wheel.

"I can't sleep at night. When I wake upm the first thing in the morning I do is check the computer to make sure another driver wasn't killed. It's a crap shoot out here," Ronald Blount, the Taxi Workers Alliance President, said

Ben Elder, lived in Frankford. He was the second oldest of 11 close knit siblings. He was the father to 14-year-old twin sons and a 5-year-old daughter. The former Navy man will receive a military burial on Friday.

As police continue to search for a suspect, the Taxi Workers Alliance will stage a vigil at 20th and Berks tomorrow night, just feet from where Ben Elder was killed. They hope to focus attention on his tragic death and the types of perils drivers like him face every day.