26 Apr 2018

Taxi company says not enough information to help find man

From Checkpoint, 5:50 pm on 26 April 2018

The daughter of a man who went missing with dementia says an Auckland taxi company failed them after it could not tell them where he was dropped off.

The man had been accompanying his wife on a visit to Greenlane Hospital.

The man had been accompanying his wife on a visit to Greenlane Hospital. Photo: Google

William Knight, 75, was accompanying his wife to an appointment at Greenlane Hospital last month when he became distressed and disappeared.

It took 15 hours to find him again, and his family say despite bank details showing he'd taken a Co Op taxi, they weren't given enough help to track where he'd been dropped off.

It was the first time he had walked off, leading to an increasingly anxious search for him across town late last month.

His daughter Nicole Knight said his dementia had been developing over the past year and they had grave concerns for his safety.

The police swarmed the area near Greenlane Hospital around midday on 28 March to help locate him and soon after found their first lead.

"It was only about half an hour later when they saw only one transaction and it was for Auckland Taxi Co Op and we had the fare and the time."

Ms Knight said the company was called and told he'd taken a taxi from around Greenlane Hospital but the driver couldn't be found through fleet messages.

"The long and short of it they really failed us ... apparently three drivers were identified as possibly having picked him up, two I think they ruled out ... and there was one who hadn't come forward."

After seven hours of searching and no driver found she called the taxi company again to urge them to help.

Ms Knight said she was told someone who could help track the ride using bank transaction details had gone for the day.

"In exceptional times, sometimes you have to go the extra mile. You need that and you hear about good samaritans and people do the right things but it wasn't even a matter of that, it was just a little bit more effort for something more exceptional. It wasn't like an every day matter, the police were involved and there were grave concerns.

"It was potentially going to be a death and it could have been prevented hours earlier, literally hours early, if we'd known where to search."

She said they feared the worst going into night time, but fortunately her father was found safe at 2am wandering in Ponsonby - 15 hours after disappearing.

Ms Knight - after placing a complaint with the company - said a manager was able to find the details of her father's taxi trip using the bank transaction.

"The fact that they accessed the information so easily ... we could have halved that [search time]."

It was later found he had taken the taxi to Grafton Hospital.