Mainlander steals taxi, dies in crash
Passenger 'became emotional' and forced the driver out before taking the wheel and ploughing into a broken-down car on the Tolo Highway
A mainland man died after hijacking a taxi and crashing it into the back of a broken-down car in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The 5am crash on the Tolo Highway in Tai Po injured two people in the other car, police said. But the 34-year-old man's reasons for attacking the driver and forcing him out of the cab remain a mystery, as does the cause of the crash. Investigators do not believe he had been drinking.
Police say the man, who arrived in Hong Kong on Boxing Day, hailed the cab early yesterday outside the American consulate in Central, asking to go to the Lok Ma Chau border checkpoint. While in the Tai Lam Tunnel in Yuen Long, the passenger suddenly slapped the driver in the back of the head, forcing him to stop near the tunnel exit and escape on foot.
The passenger took the wheel and crashed into the seven-seater car which was stopped in the slow lane of the Tolo Highway, near Kwong Fuk Estate. The man was cut out of the car by rescue teams and later declared dead in Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long.
The driver of the other car had his right arm broken, while his woman passenger suffered minor injuries. They were treated at Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po.
The taxi driver received treatment for minor head injuries at Pok Oi.
Chief Inspector Simon Pang Chuen-kwong, of the New Territories North accident investigation team, said the driver was going at about 80km/h, below the 100km/h speed limit, at the time of the crash. There were no trails to suggest sudden braking. He said police were trying to establish the motive for the attack and confirm the man's identity.
"He suddenly became very emotional and attacked the taxi driver," said Pang, citing the driver's account.
Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group chairman Lai Ming-hung said there had been several cases of taxi drivers being threatened or attacked by passengers sitting in the back seat. He suggested drivers install plastic shields behind their seats.
In 2009, a drunken Australian student tried to take control of a taxi in Central, causing a crash that killed the driver. Earlier this month a banned driver was charged with a range of offences after a 50-minute high-speed police chase involving a stolen taxi.