NORWALK - Norwalk police say 72-year-old cab driver Carlos Villarreal may have purposely crashed his car to get away from a passenger who was trying to rob him at knifepoint.

The incident happened shortly before 5 a.m. Thursday at the corner of Osborne Avenue and Fort Point Street. The alleged backseat robber fled the scene after the elderly cab driver crashed his car into a pole on the side of the road.

Police say a resident nearby heard the crash and saw Villarreal run into his house on Osborne Avenue, where police say they found him hiding in a crouched position with cuts on his head and hand from holding a knife in the crash.

?They found that he was covered with a white powder, the same white powder that?s used to protect the airbag,? says Lt. Paul Resnick, of the Norwalk Police Department. ?So when the airbag popped, he was covered with that white powder.?

According to police, Villarreal was able to positively identify 18-year-old Carlos Navarrette as the assailant before he was taken to Norwalk Hospital to be treated for his wounds from both the crash and the knife attack.

Navarrette is being held on charges of robbery, assault and reckless endangerment.