The victim of a horrific truck crash in Cheung Sha Wan last Saturday has disappeared from government records, with neither police nor the government’s Information Services Department (ISD) able to give any update on her condition or even confirm her name.
Transit Jam enquired twice over the weekend about the victim’s status and was told Hospital Authority (HA) had no record of the patient. ISD both times advised to call back “later”.
This morning, six days after the crash, a call back to ISD reached the same dead-end.
“The information the police gave us maybe does not match hospital records,” said an ISD operator in explanation.
The operator said ISD “only speaks to frontline hospital staff like nurses” and suggested Transit Jam message a WhatsApp service which “is connected to higher authorities.”
“They may know more,” she said.
The operator could not explain how a journalist would be able to get more information from HA than the government’s own information unit, or why ISD itself hadn’t chased up to find the woman’s information, despite being asked at least twice for clarification.
“This is just the way it is,” said the operator.
A message to the HA Whatsapp hotline given by ISD simply bounced back an automated message requesting journalists email their enquiries to HA.
According to a WhatsApp account message, HA “is now working with other companies to manage this chat”.
Messages sent to the same number back in September last year are still unread and the service has provided no response to those or the latest messages sent today.
Emails to the suggested address also went unanswered.
Neither ISD nor HA have responded to questions about the incident, about the new contractor behind the HA WhatsApp service or about the apparently broken communication chains between emergency services, hospitals and the government’s information unit.
The 66-year-old victim, originally named by police as Ms Mai, was collecting cardboard on a Cheung Sha Wan street when she was struck by a heavy dump truck, driven by 35-year-old Mr Fan, and dragged several metres under its wheels.
Video footage has emerged which shows the woman crossing the road with a recycling trolley. Her access to a nearby pedestrian crossing was partly blocked by an illegally-parked van on the crossing and she cut across the road about 10 metres from the crossing in front of the stationary dump truck, a 34-tonne Hino 700.
But as she reaches the other side of the road, still in front of the truck, the truck driver starts driving forward, knocking her down and dragging her and the trolley underneath. The driver continues for some seconds after the collision.
The woman was taken to Princess Margaret Hospital unconscious with severe injuries. A police source at the time said they expected the case to be fatal. But no update on the woman’s condition has been given and, with records missing, it is not known if she has survived the ordeal.
Blind spot issue not addressed
A similar accident involving a garbage truck in July 2021 highlighted the issue of heavy-truck blind spots in busy urban streets. In that crash, in Yau Ma Tei, the truck driver was apparently unaware he had struck and killed an 88-year-old man.
And in January 2021 in Yuen Long, a male cyclist was caught under a left-turning heavy dump truck, with the driver reportedly unable to see the cyclist due to the truck’s blind spot.
In 2020, a police crime scene investigator told Transit Jam Hong Kong’s heavy trucks were lacking radar and camera technology which could save pedestrians’ lives.
While Europe mandated side-facing radar from July this year, Hong Kong last updated truck safety requirements in 2014, with the introduction of rear-vision cameras. Truck drivers in the city still rely on old-fashioned blind-spot mirrors, in which, according to many drivers, pedestrians and obstacles are often not clearly visible.