Driver behind deadly derailment in NE Taiwan attends memorial service, kowtows, cries

Driver of Puyuma Express train that killed 18 kowtows and cries at memorial service, relatives of victims console him

Yu (center) kneeling.

Yu (center) kneeling. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The train driver in charge of the deadly derailment of Puyuma Express train No. 6432 in Taiwan's Yilan County on Oct. 21, today attended a memorial service held in Taitung for the 18 passengers killed in the crash, where he kneeled and kowtowed to express his sincere apologies, which were accepted by many relatives of the victims.

The Taitung County Government announced that flags were to be lowered to half-staff during a joint memorial service at the Taitung Memorial Funeral Hall in memory of the 18 passengers who perished when the No. 6432 Puyuma Express train leaped off the tracks at Xinma Station in Su'ao at 4:50 p.m. on Oct. 21.

According to local media reports, the 48-year-old driver involved in the derailment, Yu Chen-chung (尤振仲), was accompanied by his lawyer and family members as he flew from Taipei to Taitung to attend the ceremony this morning. Dressed from head to toe in black, including a black surgical mask, Yu was joined by his son and daughter as he walked into the funeral hall.

Yu had a grim expression on his face when he quietly entered the funeral hall, before suddenly kneeling and beginning to kowtow his head forcefully on the ground.

As he kowtowed, he cried and said, "I couldn't save everyone, I'm sorry, this is a pain that will dwell in my heart forever!" He then kneeled toward the relatives of the victims.

Several of the relatives of the victims then rushed forward and pulled Yu to his feet with one saying, "You do not need to be like that, we don't blame you, take good care of yourself. Together, we will find the truth." While another said, Only you, only you can tell us was happened that day."

Siblings from the Tung (董) family said, "Take care of yourself, God spared you so that you can find the truth for us." Yu cried and said, "I definitely will."

After paying his respects, Yu, looking haggard, sank in a lounge chair, with his head bowed and his face covered with clinched fists. Yu was seen frequently wiping tears from his face with tissues as he sat in silence.

Site of memorial service in Taitung. (CNA image)