Veteran traffic officer heading to fatal crash killed in collision with minibus

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 March, 2009, 12:00am

A veteran traffic policeman died yesterday when his motorcycle collided with a minibus as he sped to the scene of another fatal accident.

The minibus driver was being held last night for questioning on suspicion of dangerous driving causing the death of station sergeant Chan Ka-wai, 51.

Police said Chan was driving along Argyle Street towards Yau Ma Tei, with his siren sounding and warning lights flashing, when he collided with the green-topped minibus which was making a right turn in the opposite direction from Argyle Street into Waterloo Road.

He was on the way to an accident in Tai Kok Tsui when the crash occurred at about 10.30am.

No charge had been laid last night against the 58-year-old minibus driver who, police said, claimed he had a green light as he made the turn.

But a senior police officer said the law required a driver to give way and take all possible action to make way for the passage of police and other emergency vehicles which were sounding a siren or displaying a flashing beacon.

Superintendent Lai Yuk-wah of Kowloon West traffic unit said police vehicles were allowed to run red lights in emergency situations if they had their sirens switched on and blue lights flashing, and if traffic conditions allowed.

Mr Lai said that after the collision, the motorcycle crashed into the railings of a traffic safety island.

'The officer was dragged by the motorcycle for about 15 metres before he was detached from the machine,' he said. The motorcycle slid another 20 metres before stopping.

Chan lay motionless on Argyle Street.

A witness said a passing ambulance pulled over and paramedics offered emergency treatment.

'Ambulancemen took the officer's helmet off and placed a head support on him,' she said.

Chan was taken to Kwong Wah Hospital, where doctors declared him dead at 11.47am.

No one in the minibus was reported hurt.

The family of the man, who had been a policeman for more than 30 years, agreed to donate his corneas.

Junior Police Officers' Association chairman Chung Kam-wa expressed sorrow at the death of Chan, with whom he had worked with for four years at the New Territories South traffic headquarters.

'He took his duties seriously and was eager to help others,' he said.

'I remember he reminded us to drive safely.'

Chan, who had been attached to the patrol sub-unit of the Kowloon West traffic enforcement and control division since 2006, is survived by his wife and three daughters.

He joined the force in 1978 and had worked in traffic-related duties for 17 years. Describing Chan as an 'experienced, professional and well-respected' officer, Acting Police Commissioner Peter Yam Tat-wing expressed regret over his death and sent condolences to his family.

Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said: 'The police will give every possible assistance to the family members of the deceased.'

Chan was the second policeman killed in a fatal traffic accident in a week.

On March 5, off-duty constable Choi Yiu-fai, 46, was killed when his motorcycle ploughed into the back of a stationary truck in Kwun Tong. Choi was on the way to work at the time of the crash.

In the Tai Kok Tsui accident, a 75-year-old woman died after being hit by a truck and a car in Lime Street at about 10.25am.

Police arrested the two drivers, aged 39 and 51, on suspicion of dangerous driving causing death. The men were being held for questioning.