‘People were screaming, I was very scared’: Cathay Pacific worker recounts horror crash on Hong Kong coach which left five dead and 32 hurt
- Passenger K.K. Lai miraculously escaped with only minor injuries and says he will continue to use the same coach service in future
Passenger K.K. Lai, 54, is a regular on coaches like the one that crashed on Friday, frequently dozing off in his seat on the way to work in the early hours of the morning.
He was violently jolted awake and confronted with scenes of chaos when the coach carrying more than 30 people from Kowloon to the airport ploughed into a stationary taxi in Tsing Yi.
“The bus was still running and hitting things just at the moment I woke up. I was not sure where I was, but I heard a loud rumbling,” he said. “I was worried about whether we were on a bridge and would plunge into the sea.”
Lai works as a driver for Cathay Pacific Airways’ freight and storage services subsidiary HAS. He miraculously escaped serious injury, but five people, including the taxi driver, were killed in the incident. Another 32 were injured.
“There was chaos. Some people had fallen on the floor, trapped under seats. Some were screaming. I was very scared,” he said.
“I saw a woman sitting next to a window, bleeding. She was leaning on the glass, eyes closed. But we couldn’t help her much until the paramedics arrived. I dared not move the wounded passengers because I didn’t know where they were injured.”
Coach driver in crash that left five dead and 32 injured had been working 12-hour shifts, Hong Kong police say
Lai had been making Friday’s journey with four colleagues, all of whom survived.
“I was in a window seat on the fifth row from the back. I had my seat belt fastened,” he said.
Lai bruised his knees and lower legs and scratched his right hand trying to grab hold of something as the bus came to a halt. He was later treated at Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung and discharged.
Despite the close call, he has no plans to find another way to get to work.
“I will have to continue to rely on these coaches,” he said of the HK$30 (US$3.80) service run by Kwoon Chung Bus Group. “The overnight routes operated by Citybus do not often fit my schedule, and it’s difficult to get a seat.”
Lai has been working at the airport for more than three decades, and said his transport options were limited despite improvements over the years.
“They have fewer stops on this coach and you can always get a seat.”