STOCKTON, Calif. – A strange conversation and a vigilant cabbie are the reasons CBS affiliate KGMB.Wednesday, reports
Yellow Cab told reporters in California that Randall Saito, the “psychopathic” Hawaii State Hospital patient who escaped Sunday morning and flew to California — hours before he was even reported missing — called a cab on Tuesday from a hotel in Stockton, Calif.
That driver didn’t have a good feeling about Saito, saying he talked to her at length and came off as “weird.”
That night, she was reportedly watching the news and saw Saito’s picture.
“I looked up and I was like, ‘Woah, he was in my cab yesterday,'” she said.
“I had a psychopath loose in my cab with me,” said the driver, who asked that her name not be used. “I feel very blessed that I’m alive.”
KGMB reports that she called her dispatcher and said the man would probably be calling back again for another ride. She said Saito told her during the ride that he was ultimately trying to get someone to take him to Nevada, Las Vegas or Lake Tahoe.
On Wednesday morning, Saito called Yellow Cab again, requesting the same driver, but she refused. Yellow Cab reportedly sent someone else to pick him up and called authorities.
Deputies from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office swooped in when the cab driver stopped at a gas station.
“There was cop cars everywhere,” said Michael Craven, who was at the gas station when Saito was arrested, telling CBS San Francisco that law enforcement converged on the area quickly.
“They just all swarmed in,” Craven said. “….They handled it amazingly.”
CBSN’s Vladimir Duthiers spoke with the general manager of the cab company, who didn’t want to be identified.
“When he got surrounded by police, the only thing the guy in the back said was, ‘They got me,'” the manager said.
Saito, 59, escaped from the Hawaii State Hospital Sunday morning, called a cab to pick him up at Kaneohe Community Park, flew to Maui on a chartered flight and caught a Hawaiian Airlines flight to San Jose, Calif.
He arrived in California on Sunday night, two hours before the State Hospital informed police that he was missing.
On Wednesday, state authorities acknowledged a “major breakdown” in protocols at the Kaneohe facility, and said it shouldn’t have taken so long for authorities to be notified. The state attorney general is investigating whether he had help from inside or outside the facility, and several staffers have been placed on unpaid leave.
A nationwide warrant for Saito’s arrest went out Tuesday, after officials he was no longer on the island.
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