No charges in Stingaree taxicab crash

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The driver of the taxi that plowed into a crowd outside a Gaslamp Quarter nightclub three months ago will not be criminally charged over the crash, which injured about three dozen people, authorities announced Wednesday.

San Diego police and the District Attorney's Office agreed there was insufficient evidence of illegal conduct to prosecute Sam Hassan Daly, 52, SDPD traffic Lt. Rick O'Hanlon said.

Shortly before 2 a.m. Feb. 12, Daly's taxi veered off Sixth Avenue and onto the adjacent sidewalk at about 15 mph, plowing through a group of pedestrians before crashing into the front of Stingaree nightclub, pinning 45- year-old Dominique Gambale of Encinitas against the building and crushing her right leg, according to police.

The trauma to Gambale's limb was so severe that physicians initially believed they would have to amputate.

A man, also 45, suffered a broken leg, and 33 other pedestrians were left with less serious injuries, either from the wreck or during the chaotic scene that followed.

After the crash, enraged victims and witnesses grabbed Daly as he was trying to back off the walkway, pulled him out of his vehicle and beat him, apparently believing he was trying to flee.

The cab driver suffered a broken nose, though it was unclear if the injury resulted from the traffic accident or the subsequent melee, O'Hanlon said.

Daly told investigators he had blacked out just prior to the accident. There was no evidence he was intoxicated, though he said he was on an antidepressant at the time of the crash, O'Hanlon said.

The decision not to pursue criminal charges against Daly followed “a comprehensive reconstruction of the events” surrounding the accident, the lieutenant said.

“The investigation included reviewing a videotape, a complete inspection of the taxicab, crash damage analysis, compiling and reviewing medical records, toxicology tests, numerous interviews of witnesses and an acceleration study,” O'Hanlon said. “The investigation was reviewed by a deputy district attorney.”

Gambale underwent a series of complex reconstructive surgeries before being released from UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest in late March. She was expected to then enter a rehabilitation facility before undergoing bone-graft surgery, physicians said.

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