Death charge possible in speedboat tragedy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 August, 2006, 12:00am

A speedboat driver could be charged with manslaughter after his vessel was involved in a fatal accident in Clear Water Bay yesterday.

Police said the tragedy happened shortly after 3pm when a 66-year-old man was swimming alone 400 metres off Clear Water Bay Second Beach. He was outside the shark protection net marked by buoys when a speedboat with four people on board and towing a banana boat headed in his direction.

The driver, 51, failed to spot the swimmer, a regular at the beach, and passengers on the banana boat screamed to try and get his attention. The driver and passengers jumped into the water after the incident and pulled the victim onto the boat.

The swimmer, who suffered injuries to his abdomen and lower body, was taken ashore and declared dead by medics.

Senior Inspector James Walker of Marine East Division said the boat driver, who was later arrested, had a valid boat licence. 'It's a manslaughter case. The gentleman is very remorseful. This is an accident but still a serious matter,' he said.

The officer said preliminary investigations indicated the speedboat had no mechanical problems. He said further investigations would be conducted to determine if the boat was speeding.

A speed limit of five knots is imposed between 8am and midnight at Clear Water Bay from July 1 to September 15, according to the Marine Department.

The driver was arrested for endangering life at sea and was still in custody last night. Police said he was expected to be released on HK$5,000 bail and on condition of reporting back to Sai Kung police station in a month.

A postmortem examination will be conducted tomorrow.

In March, a 49-year-old swimmer, Ng Ko-kai, was killed and his companion narrowly escaped injury when they were run over by a hit-and-run speedboat amid low visibility in Shataukok.