By Adam Sege and Liam Ford
3:11 PM CDT, March 19, 2013
Cab driver Edwin Obazuaye was in good spirits after he was shot twice by robbers while driving the South Side for fares last week.
He had survived a health scare last year and he was now expecting to make a full recovery from a gunshot wound to the back and a graze wound to the head. “I was with him on Saturday and he was very effervescent,” said Jim Otokiti, whose siblings grew up with Obazuaye in Nigeria and who knew Obazuaye most of his life.
Otokiti said he was shocked when he got a call Monday night that his friend had died, four days after the robbery. An autopsy found that a heart attack was a contributing factor to his death. Obazuaye leaves a wife and a 5-year-old son.
“He was very outgoing, and he’s one of those people you can really count on,” Otokiti said.
Obazuaye, 48, had picked up two passengers in the 8500 block of South Parnell Avenue around 5:45 p.m. last Thursday, according to police. The passengers announced a robbery and shots were fired near 91st Street and South Lafayette Avenue, Police News Affairs Officer Amina Greer said.
The two robbers fled with Obazuaye's cell phone, Greer said.
Obazuaye was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he joked with medical staff that he was having trouble remembering family phone numbers. He told Otokiti, "We need to go back to good old days, when we memorized everyone’s phone numbers."
Obazuaye was immensely popular among his fellow Nigerian immigrants, and the line of visitors grew and grew at the hospital until his younger brother asked doctors to take his name off the hospital directory so he could rest, Otokiti said.
Obazuaye was a member of the Akugbe-Oretin Club, a group of immigrants from southern Nigeria. Whenever the club had a function, Obazuaye “would be the first person there, and he would pick up the phone and make sure everyone was there," Otokiti said.
Obazuaye had been a licensed Chicago cab driver beginning in 1990, but had a series of traffic violations that were highlighted in a 2011 Tribune series on cab drivers. His license was revoked in 2011, a city spokeswoman said.
Since losing his cab license, Obazuaye continued to work to support his wife and son, also named Edwin, Otokiti said. He was driving for fares on the South Side when he was shot, Otokiti said.
“He was a very hard worker,” Otokiti said. “He’s just one of those guys who’s made a few mistakes. He was at work when it happened. He drove a Yellow Cab for quite a while.”
Club members were planning to meet Tuesday night to plan services for Obazuaye, Otokiti said. Usually, members of the group contribute at least $200 each to a fund for a deceased member's family for funeral and other expenses, he said.
No suspects are in custody and police had no detailed description of the attackers.
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