Suspected smugglers' speedboat kills swimmer off Shataukok pier

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 March, 2006, 12:00am

A 49-year-old swimmer was killed and his companion narrowly escaped injury yesterday when they were run over by a hit-and-run speedboat amid low visibility in Shataukok.

Ng Ko-kai was hit shortly after 6am while swimming about 30 metres from the Shataukok pier with his friend. The speedboat, which witnesses told police they believe could have been a smugglers' vessel, did not stop after the accident and disappeared.

'A man who was fishing on the pier called the emergency unit and told us that he saw a speedboat knock two swimmers,' a police spokeswoman said.

Fireboats and Marine Police vessels rushed to their rescue. 'One of them was uninjured,' the spokeswoman said. 'Ng was declared dead by ambulancemen at the scene.'

A police source said Ng had been hit by the propeller of the speedboat and had suffered severe head injuries. Police officers were last night trying to trace the speedboat, which reportedly had been seen heading towards Ap Chau after the accident.

Shataukok residents said Ng was a keen swimmer and went for a swim around the local pier every morning.

'He lived in Chung Ying Street with his wife,' said a resident, who described Ng as a very kind-hearted man. 'His son is studying in the United Kingdom.'

Although swimming is prohibited in the area, Ng was one of many residents who regularly went for early morning swims, believing it is safe because there are few vessels moving around the pier at that time.

But Shataukok, which is close to the mainland border, is a hot spot for smuggling and speedboats are often seen coming from or going into mainland waters. Some residents told police they believed the speedboat that hit Ng was a smugglers' speedboat.

Two hours after the incident, the Marine Department issued a navigation warning about poor visibility due to heavy fog.

The warning reminds vessels to maintain a safe speed and exercise 'extreme caution' because visibility is at less than two nautical miles.

The Marine Department noted that any accidents should be reported immediately to its vessel traffic centre on 2233 7801.

Tai Sai-choi, scientific officer at the Observatory, said the low visibility was due to humid weather.

'In some areas, the visibility is even below 1,000 metres,' he said.