URBANA — A 21-year-old University of Illinois student was arrested early Saturday on a variety of charges after he allegedly punched a taxi driver, stole the rig and crashed into another car.
The series of events began about 2:20 a.m. in the 2500 block of East Washington Street in east Urbana when one of three men who was in a taxi punched the driver.
Urbana police Sgt. Cory Koker said the taxi driver had taken the men to a bar in east Urbana that was closed and was trying to find out where they wanted to go next. They had been riding for a while when one of the men, later identified as Thomas Hart of Elmhurst, allegedly punched the taxi driver in the face several times.
The driver got out of the minivan, as did the other two passengers. Hart then allegedly got in the driver's seat and took off headed east.
He was in the minivan a few minutes and was on Washington Street extended, about 2 miles east of High Cross Road, when he sideswiped another eastbound car, sending it into a ditch and the van he was in into a cornfield.
Champaign County sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Vercler said the occupants of the car that was hit were Jose Reynoso, 29, and Suleyma Landaverde, 38, both of St. Joseph. They were taken to Carle Foundation Hospital, where they were treated and released.
Hart, who was not injured, was arrested for driving under the influence, aggravated battery and possession of a stolen vehicle.
Koker said the taxi driver refused medical treatment.
Hart was released from the jail Saturday after posting $2,500 cash bond. He was expected to be formally charged Monday.