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Traffic and road safety in Hong Kong

Passengers claim bus driver was ‘throwing a tantrum’ before horrific Tai Po crash

Police arrested the bus driver for dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 11:33pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 February, 2018, 12:56am

Victims of the gruesome Tai Po bus crash recalled seeing people with broken limbs inside the bus after the vehicle flipped on its side, while onlookers stood by taking videos.

Amid the chaotic scenes, survivors said they crawled out through the emergency exits after they were unable to find a hammer to break through the vehicle’s windows.

“More than 15 people had died at the scene, there were broken heads, hands and legs afterwards and I heard screams,” said Lee Ho-sang, 16, the youngest passenger.

“There were many people injured, but only me and my father were helping people. A lot of passengers were laying on the ground but no one was willing to help. Those who were less injured only stood by the sidewalk, taking videos of the situation.”

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But another man said those who were able to move did help other trapped passengers to leave through the emergency exit.

“We looked for the emergency exits but could not find them, then we looked for the hammer to break the window, but in vain,” a male victim said.

“In the end we opened the emergency exit, and I went up to pull some people out too,” he said, without giving his name.

A fire department spokesman said the bus was packed when the accident happened, and it would have been like being “inside a washing machine rolling over” when it flipped.

“This is why many of the passengers injured have wounded their spines and suffered bone fractures,” he said. “Most of the dead have injuries to their heads.”

A lot of passengers were laying on the ground but no one was willing to help
Lee Ho-sang, bus passenger

The survivors claimed the driver was “throwing a tantrum” after being late and getting the blame from impatient passengers.

“The bus was going very, very fast the whole time. I believe the accident was due to the driver’s negligence,” Lee said.

The family members of an injured father and son who were seated in the back of the upper deck also said the bus driver was yelled at for being late when passengers were getting on board.

“The driver could’ve saved the bus from tipping over. He didn’t slow down at all and it felt as if he let loose of the steering wheel once the bus began to lose control,” said Li, quoting his 40-year-old brother, who suffered muscle aches, and 17-year-old nephew who sustained head injuries and required stitches in the emergency unit at Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital.

The father was able to grab his son and prevented him from a direct hit, while a few passengers around them suffered more serious injuries.

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He said the driver was able to crawl out of the bus to call the police.

Police arrested the driver for dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm. He was injured but it was unclear whether he needed hospital treatment, a police spokesman said.

After the accident, there was a strong smell of petrol at the scene, sawdust, and rescuers were spraying water on the bus to prevent a fire.

Additional reporting by Cathy Hilborn Feng