Strike two: Wealthy Chinese driver jailed for killing pedestrian resurfaces in fresh crash
Zhejiang driver Hu Bin's latest accident stirs bad memories of his fatal reckless driving five years ago
A Zhejiang man who gained national infamy for fatally hitting a pedestrian with his car in 2009 was found to have been in car crash recently, sparking public calls to ban him from driving for the rest of his life.
Hu Bin, 25, lost control of his white BMW along a curve in Hangzhou, causing his vehicle to careen off the road and flip over last Friday. Photos from the scene showed the wrecked and overturned car.
There were no casualties and the driver was cleared of any misconduct or violations, according to local police.
But the accident reopened old wounds, with mainland residents citing his case five years ago in which Hu, then a 20-year-old university student, ran over a man with his red Mitsubishi sports car.
The victim, 25-year-old Tan Zhuo, was the only son and breadwinner of his elderly jobless parents. Tan was also engaged to be married before he was killed while crossing a Zhejiang street.
Hu, who comes from a wealthy family, was later found to have been illegally drag racing before the incident. Police investigators found he was driving between 84 km/h to 101 km/h – beyond the speed limit of 50 km/h.
Hu immediately reported the case to police, but triggered public outrage after photos of him laughing and joking with his friends and their girlfriends at the scene surfaced on the internet.
The case was widely seen as illustrating how rich, spoiled children flouted the rules at the cost of public safety.
Hu was sentenced to three years in prison and was fined 1.1 million yuan (HK$1.4 million) in damages to Tan’s family in July 2009. His driver’s licence was also revoked.
It was unclear when he reapplied for a new licence.
News of Hu’s latest road mishap was quickly circulated on social media and he was widely condemned. Netizens questioned the police’s statement that Hu was not speeding before Friday’s accident.
“How could his car possibly end up upside down and severely damaged without speeding?” some internet users said.
Others pointed out that Hu did not serve his full prison term as he was let off several months early for good behaviour.
The Hangzhou Intermediate Court, which convicted Hu, confirmed today that Hu was released nine months earlier on a commuted sentence after Hu showed a “disciplined performance and repentant attitude” – a decision supported in law.
“It’s hard to not speculate that there were behind-the-scenes manoeuvring if a man was given a reduced sentence and then made repeat offences,” one internet user said.
“Reducing serving time is meant to reward those who repent. But has Hu demonstrated even a bit of repentance?” one blogger lashed out.
Some commentators urged authorities to impose a lifetime driving ban against Hu.
“Hu may have not harmed anyone this time, but who knows if his negligence may take a person’s life next time?” one Weibo user said.
Under current traffic laws on the mainland, drivers can only be banned for life if they cause major traffic incidents or if they are caught after a hit-and-run.
In a commentary on Weibo, state news agency Xinhua questioned whether lawmakers should authorise more stringent punishments for “people like Hu Bin, who seem to be indulgent to speeding and have never learned sufficient lessons from previous offences”.