A GIBRALTAR taxi company has suspended two drivers after it left a 93-year-old disabled woman screaming in agony for two hours while thunderstorms raged.
Mariola Summerfield MBE, who has no legs and needs to take tranquilizers, was left freezing in her wheelchair by the driver who refused three times to pick up her up.
It came as some of the heaviest rain in Gibraltar’s history saw 250 litres per square metres fall in just a few hours.
Mariola, who was awarded the MBE by Queen Elizabeth II, shivered under a blanket in the street, having just celebrated a birthday lunch for her grandson in the De Juan fish restaurant.
“It was horrible to see her like that,” Mariola’s granddaughter Gail, 45, told the Olive Press.
“We had used the service before,” said Gail, who called the Gibraltar Taxi Association, specifically requesting wheelchair access 15 minutes prior to leaving the restaurant.
Gail explained that the first time the ‘rude’ driver pulled up, he told her grandmother: ‘I’m not here for you’.
After a second and third time being refused by the driver, the Summerfields were angry and Gail’s father, John, 65, began shouting abuse at the driver, running after the car, which sped off into the rain without passengers.
“It was disgraceful,” said Gail. “You can’t justify the unjustifiable, she was literally screaming in pain towards the end of the experience”.
As a co-founder of the Housewives Association, Mariola is a hero for Gibraltarians due to her work defending the sovereignty of the British overseas territory, which saw her present a petition to the Queen in 1966 at Buckingham Palace.
Mariola, who was also Gibraltar’s first female juror, chronicled her heroic life in her book, A woman’s place, published in 2007.
The Gibraltar Taxi Association – who describe their drivers as ‘extremely professional and courteous in their approach’ – have asked Mariola and family to their office ‘to work something out’, but Gail maintains they ‘did it on purpose’.
The firm officially declined to comment, but have since apologised to the family.