An SUV was going south on Auburn Way North just before 6 a.m. when it ran the red light at Main Street and collided with the eastbound cab, said Cmdr. Mike Hiram with Auburn Police.
Witnesses said the impact was so great, the SUV rolled several times before coming to rest.
"(It sounded) like an explosion," the witness said. "Oh, it was incredibly loud."
The cab driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the SUV ran from the scene but was captured by officers about a block away, Hiram said. The driver and his female passenger were taken to Auburn Regional Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries but they are expected to survive.
Hiram says it appears both alcohol and speed were factors in the crash and a blood draw has been taken on the SUV driver.
The name of the taxi driver has not been released, but he is a well known Pierce County man. His boss told KOMO News the victim was about 55 and had worked for him on and off for the past eight years.
"Very well liked person, been in the town for as long as I know," said Vince Cuddy. "Everybody knows him. It's devastating."
Auburn Way and Main Street were closed Friday morning for the investigation.