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Traffic and road safety in Hong Kong

Former Hong Kong bus driver sentenced to 45 months in jail for 2017 crash that killed a woman

The sentencing comes amid heightened concerns over bus safety after the city’s worst road accident in nearly 15 years last month

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 March, 2018, 7:56pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 March, 2018, 11:00pm

A former Hong Kong bus driver on Monday was sentenced to almost four years in prison for a crash that beheaded a woman passenger and injured 20 others after he blacked out behind the wheel last year.

Man Chun-pun, 62, was given a 45-month prison term after pleading guilty last month to one count of dangerous driving causing death, and another of causing grievous bodily harm.

District judge Timothy Casewell said on Monday there were serious aggravating factors in Man’s crime because he put “lots of people at risk” by speeding in a public service vehicle.

Casewell also barred him from driving for five years.

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The sentencing came amid heightened concerns over bus safety after a double-decker bus flipped on its side in Tai Po, killing 19 people and injuring scores last month in the city’s worst road accident in nearly 15 years. The government has since reduced working hours of the city’s 130,000 bus drivers, with bus companies improving their monthly payments and overtime reimbursements.

The District Court heard Man had been driving the route for 15 years since joining Citybus in 1994 when his cross-harbour, double-decker No 681 overturned near Lam Tin Station at Lei Yue Mun Road on January 14, 2017.

Man had passed an annual company health check four months earlier, despite having the eye condition presbyopia as well as suffering from high blood pressure and cholesterol.

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The fatal accident took place four hours after he took his medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol – which he said did not carry side effects – when he suddenly suffered a dizzy spell which he never experienced before.

He blacked out for about a second and lost control of the vehicle, which then rammed into a raised kerb ramp and bounced up before it toppled onto its left side, landing on the pavement.

Passengers screamed for help after the crash as a 42-year-old woman was beheaded. Twenty others were injured.

Among the injured were a man and four women aged between 17 and 48 who suffered more serious injuries that included bone fractures and lacerations, and were admitted to hospital for up three months. A 31-year-old woman gave birth through caesarean section six days after the crash.

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An expert estimated that the bus was travelling at an average speed of 67km/h (42mph) despite road’s 50km/h speed limit.

Man said through a lawyer when he pleaded guilty that he was regretful and apologised to the victims for causing the accident by driving “not very attentively”.

Man had a prior conviction of careless driving in September 2016, for which he was fined HK$5,000.

A spokesman with NWS Holdings, which runs Citybus and New World First Bus, said Citybus respected the ruling of the court.