Bus driver in the clear over deaths of cabbie, Heston Blumenthal sous-chefs

Police decide not to act after medical certificate says Lau Chit was prone to 'sudden illness'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 May, 2013, 7:42am

The driver of a double-decker bus that ploughed into a taxi last year, killing the driver and both his passengers, will not face prosecution.

The passengers were chefs working for celebrity TV chef Heston Blumenthal.

Police confirmed yesterday that New World First Bus driver Lau Chit, 57, had been freed from bail and released without charge after submitting a medical certificate that stated he was prone to "sudden illness''.

A spokesman for New World First Bus said yesterday it was still "looking into'' conducting more rigorous health tests on its drivers. Earlier, the company said Lau had passed a medical check in July last year - four months before the deadly accident in Shau Kei Wan in November.

The accident killed cabbie Wong Kim-chung, 53 and his passengers, Swede Carl Lindgren, 30, and Briton Jorge Herrena, 34, and left 56 people injured.

Lindren and Herrena had been in Hong Kong helping Blumenthal at an event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Central. Blumenthal's How to Cook Like Heston is showing on the TLC chanel in Hong Kong.

Security video recordings on the double-decker showed that Lau fainted and that the vehicle careered down a slope in Chai Wan Road for more than 10 seconds before hitting the taxi and another bus.

The New World First Bus spokesman said it was still not certain what, if any, new health checks would be introduced but electrocardiograph heart tests were an option.

Lau joined the company in 1998 and had a good driving record, with only a few minor road accidents.

The driver is understood to have presented a doctor's certificate to confirm that he suffered from a sudden illness, of which he had no prior knowledge, when he lost control of the bus.

A lawyer who declined to be identified said it was very rare not to proceed with prosecution in such cases involving so many casualties.

He said the medical proof given by the driver must have been so strong that the police felt it would be very difficult to secure a prosecution.

Blumenthal was unavailable for comment yesterday.

A senior representative from his flagship restaurant The Fat Duck in Berkshire, England, said that if there was to be any official response it would only be made through their public relations company.