Cycling

STILL NO ARRESTS ON GIRL’S E-TRIKE DEATH, POLICE “WAITING ON DOJ”

The trike (left), the blood (right) and the initial police case brief (inset) stating “NPR-PAI” (no police required, person accidentally injured)

Police say they are still waiting for advice from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on whether a man involved with the death of his 5-year-old granddaughter last month should be prosecuted.

Mr Leung, 56, told police he had parked his electric tricycle on a village lane on 16 January when the girl fell off. That alleged fall, from a 0.5 metre platform, caused a massive head wound, knocking the girl unconscious and leaving a pool of blood in the gutter. The girl died shortly afterwards in Cheung Chau Hospital.

Cheung Chau police were on the scene shortly after the incident, but logged the 999 call as “No Police Required – Person Accidentally Injured”, a classification usually assigned to cases where a victim has collapsed or tripped over, for example, on a busy street.

On the day after the incident, police said an arrest for “endangering a child” might be imminent. But no further action was taken. From local reports, little evidence was gathered at the scene and no government chemist visited – a common procedure in fatal vehicle-related cases.

In fact, deaths or serious injuries involving vehicles are usually initially classified as “Traffic Accident Person Injured (TAPI)” or “TAPI-fatal”. In fatal cases, the driver or most recent vehicle operator is almost always arrested for dangerous driving causing death. In even simple cases involving e-mobility devices, drivers or riders are almost always arrested for four offences, including riding unlicensed vehicles, riding without insurance, riding without helmets and riding without a driving licence.

But in this case, Leung remains free.

“After preliminary investigation, [the girl] was suspected of falling from the body of an electric tricycle,” said a police statement a few days after the girl’s death. “The case is temporarily classified as abuse or neglect of children or juveniles in custody, and is handed over to the officers of the Cheung Chau Division to follow up,” they said.

Many netizens have expressed doubt about the grandfather’s version of events, asking how a low fall could cause such a bloody death.

One Cheung Chau source believes the girl was thrown from the vehicle after it overturned while being driven.

And medical experts who have studied child falls say a fall needs to be of greater than about 1m to even cause any skull fracture. Indeed, authoritative studies show short falls rarely cause death. “As others have found, most [studied] ‘minor fall’ fatalities occurred under circumstances where there were no unrelated witnesses to corroborate the initial history,” writes one expert in the Journal of American Forensic Medical Pathology, discussing falls between 1.5 m and 1.8 m, finding that proper investigation of such deaths almost always finds they have another cause.

Meanwhile, other villagers doubted Leung’s claim that he “rarely used the e-trike” and that the family had most of their food delivered. Food delivery on Cheung Chau is not common, they say.

Police say they will give an update when they hear back from DOJ.

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