Bus driver sentenced to 18 months in jail

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 April, 2007, 12:00am

A bus driver was jailed for 18 months yesterday for crashing his bus into the back of a container truck, hurling a passenger to his death from the top deck.

Magistrate Don So Man-lung said Li Ching-kai, 26, had failed to pay adequate attention to the traffic, particularly when switching lanes on a high-speed five-lane expressway with busy traffic flow.

He convicted the driver of dangerous driving causing death, which Li had denied.

Mr So also disqualified Li from driving for five years.

Three people - including the 36-year-old man who died - were thrown from the top deck and 11 others were injured when the Kowloon Motor Bus double-decker rammed the broken-down truck on Kwai Chung Road.

The accident happened at 10.30am on July 17 last year.

Mr So said the crash could have been avoided if Li had maintained a safe and appropriate distance, allowing him to react and stop when he tried to cut from the third lane into the second lane, where the truck was parked with emergency lights on.

Li, a professional driver since 2000 and a KMB driver since 2005, should have paid extra attention to road conditions because he drove a double-decker and carried a large number of passengers.

The magistrate said the bus had been travelling at an average speed but evidence from surviving passengers indicated that the driver should have seen the truck from at least 70 metres away.

The driver had not slowed down between lanes. He swerved right when nearing the truck but had braked only after slamming into it.

In mitigation, barrister Bruce Tse said the bus driver was genuinely remorseful and felt sorry for his carelessness.

Mr Tse also invited the magistrate to consider the fatal crash as an isolated incident as Li had maintained a clear traffic record and probably would never drive again.

He had been unemployed since the crash and had been on psychological and psychiatric treatment to deal with the trauma.

A KMB spokesman said the company respected the court's ruling and would review its training for drivers.

In the past seven months, there have been two other fatal accidents involving KMB buses.

On February 17, a double-decker had its left side ripped open after it crashed into a container truck while overtaking it on the Tsing Long highway, killing one passenger and leaving a dozen injured.

On October 17, the top deck of a bus was slashed off after it went out of control in Mong Kok, killing a pedestrian and injuring a dozen people.