The taxi driver who killed two and injured eight after smashing through a Tai Po pedestrian refuge in August last year will now face two manslaughter charges as well as four counts of dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm.
Driver Mok Pui-wa, 63, is alleged to have unlawfully killed a 59-year-old man and a 63-year-old woman who had been crossing Kwong Fuk Road on the morning of Sunday 22 August.
Mok was originally arrested for dangerous driving causing death. But in Fanling Magistrates Court yesterday (FLCC1135/2021) prosecutors revised the charges, laying a total of six charges on the taxi driver.
Mok, said prosecutors, ignored a red light, did not slow down and did not use his brakes. As he approached the pedestrian crossing, he cut into the opposite lane, overtook two vehicles parked illegally in front of the crossing and ran into the pedestrian refuge at around 50 kph – the posted speed limit on that road.
The force of the impact killed one man outright, while the 63-year-old woman died the next morning. Dozens of onlookers had shown superhuman strength lifting the smouldering taxi to free a pregnant lady trapped underneath in videos widely shared on social media. The lady survived and her baby was unharmed according to later reports. But her four-year-old son spent seven weeks in hospital.
The crash shook the community, coming out of the blue on a popular shopping street packed with Sunday shoppers. Many residents laid flowers or burned offerings for the deceased, while professionals offered a counselling service for those residents affected.
At the time, the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Frank Chan Fan, expressed sadness for the deceased.
But work from the Transport Department to improve pedestrian safety has stalled in recent years, with major pedestrianisation projects either cancelled altogether, as in the case of Sai Yeung Choi Street in Mong Kok, or abandoned before implementation, as in the case of Soho and Sham Shui Po pedestrianisation plans.
And Hong Kong civil servants are still stonewalling questions on three pedestrian deaths at exact locations studied by highly paid “walkability” consultants.
Fatal crashes claimed the life of a 23-year-old Elodie Ma on Staunton Street in mid-December 2021 while a 23-year-old woman, Shi Wuyang, and 63-year-old man, Li Wing-keung, were killed on Tai Yau Street in San Po Kong on New Year’s Eve 2021.
Both crash sites had been studied in detail by engineering firms earning a slice of Hong Kong’s billion-dollar government consultation market.
The government says it has implemented one “30 kph” stretch of road in Sham Shui Po as a trial, although road experts say the concept needs to be applied to a zone, not one short stretch of street, to have any impact at all.