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Bus driver indicted for killing family on crosswalk in central Taiwan

Chen admitted to not paying attention to pedestrians when driving through crosswalk

Scene of bus accident in Taichung on Dec. 27, 2022. 

Scene of bus accident in Taichung on Dec. 27, 2022.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Prosecutors have indicted the bus driver that struck a family of three at a pedestrian crossing late last year with negligent homicide (過失致死罪).

On Dec. 27, 2022, a family of three, including a 30-year-old Taiwanese woman surnamed Lee (李), a 32-year-old Iraqi man identified as Azeez, and their one-year-old son had gone out for a late meal at McDonald's but found it was closed. As they headed back home, they began to cross the street at a zebra crossing at the intersection of Yicai Road and Xueshi Road in Taichung City's North District.

The 53-year-old driver surnamed Chen (陳) of the Fengyuan Bus Transportation Co. Route 280 bus, drove down Xueshi Road and allegedly failed to slow down to look for pedestrians as he turned left onto Yicai Road, running into all three family members. Azeez suffered minor injuries, but Lee and their son were fatally struck.

All three were rushed by ambulance to China Medical University Hospital for emergency treatment, but doctors were unable to resuscitate the mother and son, and they were both declared dead at 12:04 a.m. on Dec. 28. Physicians at the hospital said that although the mother and son had no obvious trauma to the head, they had suffered multiple abrasions and bruises on the torso.

According to physicians, the abdomen, liver, spleen, and other organs of the victims suffered massive hemorrhaging, causing acute shock and impaired brainstem function. Meanwhile, Azeez had his left wrist bruised.

At the scene of the accident, Chen told Azeez and police officers that he did not see the family when he began to make his turn onto Yicai Road due to dim lighting. That afternoon, Chen went to the hospital to personally apologize to Lee's father and husband and in a video of his apology, he could be seen bowing and kowtowing multiple times saying, "I'm very sorry. I know you are very sad because my own mother recently died, and I can understand your feelings."

Azeez told the media that Chen was driving too fast and that he had failed to stop before entering the zebra crossing, which is a violation of the law that will soon incur steeper fines. "If he had stopped, my child and wife might still be alive," said Azeez.

During an investigation by prosecutors, Chen admitted that he did not pay attention to the pedestrians crossing the road when he drove the bus into the intersection, reported UDN. When prosecutors reviewed surveillance camera footage, bus dash cam footage, and photos from the scene of the accident, they determined that Chen's line of sight was not hindered by weather conditions, dim lighting, or any obstacles at the time of the accident.

After the investigation, based on witness testimony, relevant evidence, and other information gathered, prosecutors indicted Chen for negligent homicide. In addition, because Chen's failure to yield to pedestrians while driving through the crossing resulted in injury and death, prosecutors recommended the court increase his punishment.