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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cab driver killed on birthday

 •  Two men sought by police

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Ty Tang

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Donations in the form of checks can be sent to:

University Avenue Baptist Church

2305 University Ave.

Honolulu, HI 96822

In the memo line, write: For Ty Tang's Family

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Taxi drivers waiting near the Honolulu airport talk among themselves about taxi driver Charlys Ty Tang, 41, of Salt Lake who died after he was beaten in a Waipahu parking lot.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Cambodian immigrant Ty Tang was driving a taxi out of Waikīkī to help raise his two young children when he was found beaten and dying in the middle of the night Saturday in the parking lot of the Waipahu Times Super Market.

It was Tang's 41st birthday.

His family had been planning a celebration for Tang at Magic Island on Saturday to coincide with a gathering of other struggling, but hardworking immigrants from Cambodia.

Instead, Tang's children a 12-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl were told they could not deliver a birthday cake to their father's hospital bed at The Queen's Medical Center on Saturday "so he could blow out the candles," said Tang's best friend, Richard Ung, who also emigrated from Cambodian and also drove a cab out of Waikīkī.

Since Honolulu police called Ung around 2:15 a.m. Saturday with the news that Tang was found dying with head and facial injuries, "I cry all the time," Ung said. "He's a nice person, a good man, a good father, a good friend."

Detectives yesterday continued to search for two men who were seen fleeing from the direction of Tang's white, 2004 Ford Crown Victoria after he was found beaten at 1:50 in the morning. He died later on Saturday.

Tang had picked up two men around 1:15 a.m. on Kūhiō Avenue near Seaside Avenue then drove them to the Times Super Market, police said.

Police asked anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300, or *CRIME on their cellular phones.

Worried Honolulu cab drivers most of them immigrants themselves and their even more frightened wives and children were wondering aloud yesterday about the safety of hustling for fares in hard times during yet another Hawai'i slow tourism season.

At a waiting area for 200 to 300 cab drivers outside Honolulu International Airport yesterday, one immigrant cab driver after another said they have to wait eight to 12 hours per day for their turns to pick up what averages out to two fares per day.

On a typical shift this time of year, drivers said, they can generate about $100 per day, which means they take home about $65 every day after paying for gas and maintenance on their cars, which they own.

"It's slow, really slow," said Tony Nguyen, 36, who was raised in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. "Every day worse."

Jimmy Lieu, 44, who is from Vietnam's Mekong Delta area, only drives his cab during the day "because it's dangerous. My wife always tell me to be safe. My wife, she keep checking on me, checking on me."

Lieu considers "night time" to be after midnight.

Many of the drivers waiting around for fares yesterday said they have been ripped off by passengers who bolt from their cabs or have worried about sketchy, fearsome passengers.

"When people get in your cab and say, 'You got change for $100?' that's a sign," Nguyen said. "But there's not much else we can do when English is second language. No career jobs."

Waneka Davis refuses to pick up passengers after 9 p.m. and won't ever make what she calls "the long trip" to the Windward and Leeward Coasts, giving up the chance for a lucrative trip.

Davis, a mother and grandmother of two, is constantly being warned by her family to be safe.

"They say, 'Mom, be careful.'"

The Honolulu medical examiner's office yesterday identified the victim in Saturday's taxi cab beating as Charlys Ty Tang.

But everyone called him Ty, (pronounced Tee).

Like his friend, Ung, Tang lived in Waikīkī and occasionally worshipped with Vietnamese and Cambodian parishioners at University Avenue Baptist Church.

Pastor Hong Ly Khuy yesterday was collecting donations for Tang's family, which includes an ex-wife Tang remained friendly with and Tang's new wife.

Before he turned to driving a cab, Tang had worked as a cook at several restaurants that closed because of slow business, Khuy said.

Then about four years ago, Khuy said, Tang turned to driving a cab, one of the primary sources of income for struggling immigrants.

"It's a job for when you're new and don't speak English that well," Khuy said. "But all the time, people talk about how dangerous it is."