Hong Kong police looking into claims that bus driver dozed off before fatal chain collision
Wong Siu-ming, 57, was thrown out of vehicle in crash and died of serious head injuries
Hong Kong police are investigating whether a cross-border bus driver was dozing at the wheel when his coach slammed into two stationary vehicles in a predawn crash that killed him and injured 15 passengers on Tuesday.
The force of the collision threw the 57-year-old driver, Wong Siu-ming, out of the vehicle leaving the coach careering driverless down a highway for about 200 metres before one of passengers took the wheel and stopped it.
The incident took place at about 12.45am on Tuesday. Wong’s bus was travelling from Tsuen Wan to the Huanggang border checkpoint when it hit two other vehicles – a delivery van and a truck – on San Tin Highway near Mai Po Lung.
Police were told that the van had stopped behind the truck and had its hazard lights turned on to alert other drivers.
One of the bus passengers, surnamed Lau, said people sitting in the front rows shouted the bus was going to crash.
“It appeared our vehicle did not brake before it rammed into the two other vehicles in front,” he said.
According to police, the truck had broken down and the delivery van stopped behind it, but the coach failed to brake in time, leading to a chain collision.
Wong was sent flying across the central divider and landed in the opposite lane. He sustained serious head injuries and was certified dead at the scene.
The bus, which was carrying more than 20 passengers, continued down the highway without a driver, according to police.
“After the crash, I found there was no one at the wheel. I realised [the driver] had been thrown from his seat on to the road. I immediately stepped on the brake pedal to stop [the bus],” another passenger, surnamed Chan, told local media.
A total of 15 passengers – 14 men and one woman, aged 17 to 67 – were injured, according to police. They were taken to North District Hospital in Sheung Shui, Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long, Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po and Tuen Mun Hospital in Tuen Mun.
Before lunchtime, one of the men was in serious condition at Tuen Mun Hospital and three other men remained in hospital in stable condition. The other 11 had been discharged after treatment.
Some passengers had told police that the driver had dozed off at the time, a police source said, and investigators were looking into the claim.
“It is too early to conclude this. Officers will talk to all passengers on board the coach to find out what had happened,” he said, adding that an autopsy would be carried out to see whether the driver had an illness that might have led him to pass out.
He said police would also look into whether the driver had properly fastened his seat belt.
Officers from the Special Investigation Team of the New Territories North traffic unit are investigating.
Police also appealed for anyone with information to contact officers at 3661 3800.
According to official statistics, 59 people died in 57 fatal traffic accidents across the city in the first six months of this year.