Seven hurt – one critically – after truck wheel breaks free and hits Tai Kok Tsui crowd
Hawker, 71, fights for life, six others hurt, after 100kg wheel comes off, falls 30 metres from flyover and strikes Tai Kok Tsui pavement
Clifford Lo and Ada Lee
An elderly hawker was fighting for his life last night after he and six other people were struck by a 100kg wheel when it snapped off a moving dump truck on a flyover in Tai Kok Tsui yesterday.
The wheel bounced off a wall and slammed into a crowd on the pavement after falling about 30 metres.
Chan Ping-fai, 71, fell into a coma after being hit on the head and was in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei last night.
Police said the other six - three men and three women aged from 33 to 64 - suffered minor injuries to their arms and legs. They were treated at Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei.
Senior Inspector Chan Sing-keung, of Kowloon West traffic unit, said: "An initial investigation showed the left front wheel broke off from the truck because the main screw was not properly tightened."
Police arrested the 50-year-old driver of the 24-tonne vehicle on suspicion of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm. He was released on bail.
The accident happened at about 2.15pm while Chan was selling gemstones on the pavement outside a herbal tea shop in Tai Kok Tsui Road.
The New Territories-bound dump truck, which was not carrying a load, was being driven on the elevated West Kowloon Corridor when its left front wheel broke off.
The wheel, which weighed more than 100kg and was about one metre in diameter, flew off the flyover and first hit a basket of potatoes outside a vegetable stall on the Tai Kok Tsui Road pavement.
Police said it then bounced and rammed into the herbal tea shop's sign before it crashed into the crowd.
One witness said he saw the wheel fall.
"There was a loud bang when it landed on the pavement," the salesman said.
"It hit several pedestrians and one of them was lying motionless." He said there were chaotic scenes as people ran for cover.
Yau Kwai-ying, an employee of the herbal tea shop, heard a "loud sound like an explosion" when the wheel landed.
She said the wheel "flew horizontally at a high speed" and then she saw the elderly man lying on the pavement.
Her colleague was taken to hospital after being sent into shock by the incident.
"She was shivering. It happened in such a sudden [way] that I didn't know how to react," Yau said.
Debris from a broken plastic chair, potatoes and a shoe were strewn over the pavement, together with a tray of gemstones.
Officers located the dump truck, which came to a stop on the West Kowloon Corridor. Police searched the carriageway, but failed to find the main screw.
Police said the truck left a long trail of skid marks on the carriageway. It was towed to a government plant in Ho Man Tin.
The Kowloon West traffic team is investigating the case.
In 2005, a 68-year-old man was crushed to death when a wheel broke free from a dump truck, fell from a flyover and hit him in Shau Kei Wan.