Dozens of onlookers showed superhuman strength lifting a smouldering taxi to free a pregnant lady trapped underneath in Tai Po this morning, after a horrific smash which saw one pedestrian dead and eight injured. [UPDATE, 23 August: one of the injured, a 63-year-old woman, also died, on Monday morning.]
According to police, the taxi was travelling along Kwong Fuk Road towards Po Heung Street when its driver lost control ahead of a red traffic light. The taxi driver swerved around the several cars already stopped at the light and ploughed into the busy pedestrian crossing, which was packed with people walking across.
The force of the crash destroyed the traffic light as the taxi bounced over the central traffic island and came to a stop about 15 metres further on, with at least two people trapped underneath.
Video footage circulating online shows about 12 citizens surrounding the taxi immediately after the crash and lifting it while others grab the injured free of the taxi’s clutches.
Acting chief inspector Tsang Ka-chun told a press briefing the force was investigating the vehicle for mechanical defects, as well as assessing the “mental state of the driver” and the overall traffic situation at the time.
Tsang told journalists the injured including four men and five women aged between four and 70, and that the taxi driver tested negative for drugs or alcohol. Police now confirm the driver struck a total of nine pedestrians, including a 59-year-old man who died and three women aged 63, 51 and 37 who were sent unconscious to hospital. Four of the victims, including the four-year-old boy, were slightly injured and sent to hospital, while one 49-year-old man refused medical attention.
Frank Chan Fan, Secretary of the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB) expressed condolences online. “Secretary Chan was deeply saddened by the fatal traffic accident on Kwong Fuk Road, Tai Po, this morning and extended his sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and the injured, and wished the injured speedy recovery,” said THB in a statement.
But THB and Transport Department have previously passed questions on pedestrian crossing safety to other departments and police, claiming it is not their responsibility.
Check out the latest episode of our podcast, Wham Bam Tram! Hong Kong’s Urban Transit Show