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Traffic and road safety in Hong Kong

Hong Kong bus passengers furious with driver moments after deadly crash, witness claims

Accident on Tai Po Road claimed the lives of 19 people over the weekend

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 February, 2018, 6:39pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2018, 3:06pm

Raging tempers flared against the driver behind the wheel of a Hong Kong bus moments after a deadly crash that killed 19 people at the weekend, according to an eyewitness.

Speaking on a radio programme on Monday, a passenger surnamed Yau recalled how he had an urge to hit the 30-year-old driver moments after he was injured in the KMB bus crash.

“I was very angry at that moment. When I saw him I had an immediate urge to beat him up. But other passengers asked me to calm down and they successfully separated us,” he said.

“I also heard an outburst of anger directed at the driver from other passengers. One of them had blood over his face. They were all cursing him,” he added.

On Saturday evening, 18 passengers were killed and more than 60 injured when the KMB double-decker, travelling from Sha Tin racecourse towards Tai Po via route 872, toppled on its side as the driver negotiated a turn near Tai Po Tsuen. The death toll rose to 19 on Sunday.

The driver, surnamed Chan, was arrested for dangerous driving causing death, but police are looking into the possibility of manslaughter, pending further investigations. The government has pledged to launch a judge-led inquiry into the tragedy.

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Yau was one of the passengers who lined up at the bus terminus at Sha Tin racecourse, and he said there was already a commotion as passengers had waited for over 10 minutes.

“There were two buses already with the first bus empty while the second bus seated with another driver. I think many passengers there lost bets at the racecourse so they were not in a good mood. As they waited for the driver they became impatient and stirred up some noisy disturbance.”

He said after waiting for 10 minutes they started to see the driver, wearing a face mask, slowly get on the bus. Seated in the upper deck, Yau said he felt his heart was suddenly beating very fast as he heard a loud banging sound, realising the bus was turning over.

Sustaining a minor injury, he was pulled from the bus and saw the driver walk towards the back of the vehicle asking other passengers to help turn off the engine, amid angry outbursts from others.

But Henry Hui Hon-kit, vice-chairman of the Federation of Bus Industry Trade Unions, said passengers needed to control their tempers as it was very dangerous for them to disturb a driver who is responsible for the lives of over 100 people on a bus.

Hui added that it was very common for innocent drivers to come across rude passengers who scolded them for no reason.

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“Basically almost every day bus drivers come across this situation of being scolded by passengers while driving. My highest record was being scolded three times during the same journey,” he said.

Hui, a bus driver for over 20 years, recalled once being chided continuously for five minutes by a passenger who stood next to him.

“He kept chiding me even though I warned him not to disturb me when I was driving. I had no [option] but to pull off the bus at a roadside and told him that I would only drive when he shut up. He finally stopped.”