Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hong Kong Accident Reveals Tragedy

Sometimes we complain about our lives, how work hours are long and hard, how things don't seem to work out no matter how hard we try, or feel that no one supports us.

And then you hear about freak accidents that make you stop and be thankful you are alive and well.

On Monday afternoon three lives were changed forever through no fault of their own.

New World First Bus driver Lau Kit, was not supposed to work that day, but he volunteered to do so after having rested the weekend. However, when he was driving the vehicle down a hill in Shau Kei Wan, the 57 year old passed out, his head lolled back.

Apparently a passenger saw Lau faint and shouted asking if someone knew how to drive the bus. No one came forward to try to steer the vehicle or stop it in some way.

Instead the passengers hid behind seats, while others held on tightly to each other. One told the media later they thought they were going to die.

The bus careened out of control and for more than 10 seconds and then crashed into a taxi and then another bus.

The taxi driver died, along with the two passengers, who it turns out were from Heston Blumenthal's culinary team. They had just finished a special promotion at the Mandarin Oriental.

Briton Jorge Ivan Arrango Herrera, 34, and Swede Carl Magnus Lindgren, 30, were in the taxi with 53-year-old Wong Kim-chung.

It took firemen two and a half hours to extract the victims from the taxi, who were declared dead on arrival. Fifty-six people from the two buses were injured.

Lau was charged with dangerous driving causing death, but was later released on HK$5,000 bail. According to New World First Bus operations head William Chung Chak-man, Lau joined the bus company in 1998 and overall had a good driving record with a few minor accidents.

The bus driver also passed his medical check in July, but this accident is prompting the possibility of more stringent screenings for those under 60, including undergoing ECGs.

In the meantime Blumenthal, whose The Fat Duck restaurant has won many culinary accolades including three Michelin stars, Best Restaurant in the World and Best Restaurant in the UK, has not made a statement to the media, probably too shocked by the tragedy to say anything. He was apparently in a taxi following Herrera and Lindgren.

There are reports Blumenthal had plans to open The Fat Duck at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.

Nevertheless we wonder -- could anything more have been done to prevent the accident?

Was there really no one on the bus would did not know how to drive? Sometimes it seems Hong Kong people are too passive sometimes, and you have to wonder if they knew what to do in a life-and-death situation.

Hopefully there will be some kind of investigation and inquiry. We must know what happened on that bus that day.

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