Who was Roy Kim?Mr. Kim was a 58-year-old Korean immigrant who lived in Queens. He had driven a taxi for more than four years and bought a medallion last year for about $578,000 — an occasion he celebrated by having a sushi dinner with a driver he met years ago while waiting for passengers at Kennedy International Airport.
But Mr. Kim had complained to friends this year that he could not find fares. He began working more often, eventually driving seven days a week. Still, his friends were surprised by his death.
“There’s no other reason but the financial aspect,” said Kyung Ryong Kang, a friend and fellow driver who had celebrated at dinner with him last year. “It was harder and harder to survive.”
On Nov. 5, Mr. Kim was found hanging by a belt from the doorway to his bedroom, the police said.
He had an adult son who lives in South Korea. Friends have been unable to reach Mr. Kim’s son.
“He was a generous person and always bought coffee for us,” he said.
Were the other drivers worried about their finances?
Drivers for Uber and other car services have also raised concerns about low wages. The other drivers who died by suicide were: Fausto Luna, an Uber driver; Abdul Saleh, a taxi driver who had leased his vehicle; Danilo Castillo, a livery driver; and Alfredo Perez, a livery driver.
“This tragedy underscores the importance of finding new ways for government, the industry and lenders to work in unity to address the financial challenges that are weighing so heavily on our licensees,” Ms. Joshi said in a statement after Mr. Kim’s death.
What is the city doing to help drivers?
Corey Johnson, the Council speaker, said the city was also looking at options to help medallion owners saddled with massive debt, from a partial bailout to a hardship fund. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a group that represents drivers, is urging the city to work with banks and philanthropic groups to write off 20 percent of taxi owners’ outstanding debt.
At the vigil for Mr. Kim, the group’s leader Bhairavi Desai had a message for taxi drivers who are struggling: The city is finally addressing the problem and things will get better soon.
“We know change is coming,” she said.
After Mr. Ochisor’s death, his family raised more than $30,000 to help pay off his medallion. An anonymous donor also contacted his son Gabriel Ochisor, wanting to help longtime drivers like his father. The donor sent him a batch of money orders, each worth $1,000, to deliver to 217 owners who bought their medallion before 1990 and still drive their taxi.
Mr. Ochisor is trying to reach all of the drivers to mail the gifts, which will be sent with a letter from the donor.
“Please know that your 3 decades (or more!) of service are appreciated and that my life has been made better by your having worked the streets,” the letter says.
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