An intoxicated Salida man trying to escape a cleaning fee for vomiting in a taxi jumped over a railing on Claus Road and had to be rescued from Dry Creek early Friday morning.
Daniel Croslin, 31, and a friend called a cab to take them from a bar on Sylvan Avenue and Claus to a bar in downtown Modesto about 12:30 a.m., said Modesto police Lt. Brian Findlen.
During the trip, Findlen said Croslin vomited in the cab.
The driver told the men they owed her a $250 cleaning fee and $11 cab fare.
The men jumped out of the car at Claus and Briggsmore Avenue, said a United Cab manager, William, who declined to give his last name.
The driver lost sight of one of the men when he jumped over a fence but she continued to follow Croslin south until he jumped the railing along the west side of Claus at Scenic Drive and went tumbling down the embankment.
“I had her call 911,” William said. “It was pretty steep, probably 75 feet down at a 15 percent grade.”
What proceeded was a 90-minute rescue operation that required the resources of 17 firefighters, as well as ambulance and police personnel.
William said the driver went to the other side of the creek, where it wasn’t as steep, to look for Croslin. “She could hear him moving a bit and splashing in the water,” he said.
Rescue crews found Croslin incoherent, lying with half his body in Dry Creek and the other half on the shore, Findlen said.
Four firefighters had to use harnesses and a pulley system to get Croslin up, said Modesto Regional Fire Authority Battalion Chief Cecil Ridge. They put him in a metal basket and with the help of the other firefighters on the road hoisted him up the hill.
Croslin was taken to Memorial Medical Center for treatment. His friend wasn’t located.
Findlen said the case will be sent to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office with a charge of theft of service.
William said the company has had a lot of “runners” lately – people trying to skip out on their fares.
“What people don’t realize when they jump out on the cab, it’s not the company they are stealing from, it’s the driver. When you jump out, you are taking food out of a driver’s kid’s mouth,” he said.
William said that in his experience, the theft of service charge comes with a fine equal to the amount owed, in Croslin’s case $261. But “when I have gone to court on these cases, the judge usually triples and quadruples the amount because of the hassle,” he said.