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Ambulance driver sentenced for killing motorcyclist after running red light in central Taiwan

Motorcyclist was driving under influence of alcohol without license and failed to yield to ambulance

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File photo of another accident involving an ambulance and scooter in Pingtung County in August. (Pingtung County Police Bureau photo)

File photo of another accident involving an ambulance and scooter in Pingtung County in August. (Pingtung County Police Bureau photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An ambulance driver was sentenced to two months in prison, which can be commuted to a fine, for running a red light and killing a motorcyclist who had the green light when entering an intersection last year.

In June 2022, a man surnamed Tang (湯) was driving an ambulance through Taichung City's Beitun District when he ran a red light and collided with a motorcyclist surnamed Tien (田), who was riding through a green light, reported UDN. Tien died from his injuries.

The first trial found that although the ambulance had been sounding its siren and flashing lights on its roof when passing through the intersection, Tang did not pay sufficient attention to the traffic moving on the green light. It was therefore determined that Tang still bore some degree of responsibility, leading to a two-month prison sentence for negligent homicide, which could be commuted to a fine.

The verdict stated that on the evening of June 6 last year, Tang was driving the ambulance to transport a patient. The route followed was along Section 3 of Songzhu Road in Beitun District, moving from Section 3 of Fengle Road to Section 1 of Dunhua Road.

When passing through the intersection of Section 3 of Songzhu Road and Houzhuang Road, the ambulance ran a red light and collided with a scooter ridden by Tien who was proceeding on a green light. At the time of the accident, the ambulance was sounding its siren and flashing its rooftop lights.

After Tien was hit by the ambulance, he had liver lacerations and internal bleeding. He was rushed to a nearby hospital for emergency medical treatment but succumbed to his injuries.

Tien's wife pressed charges of negligent homicide against Tang. During the trial at the Taichung District Court, it was found that at the time of the accident, Tien had alcohol in his system and his driver's license had been revoked.

According to the assessment opinion of the Traffic Accident Investigation Committee of Taichung City, Tien had failed to yield to the ambulance, which had its siren and flashing lights on, making him the primary cause of the accident. However, Tang's failure to pay attention to the traffic flow at the green light was deemed to be the secondary cause.

The first trial determined that Tang was negligent in not paying attention to the driving dynamics of the green light, and after running the red light, Tang collided with Tien. The court stated that this represented a causal relationship between Tang's actions and Tien's death.

Due to significant disparities in the two parties' expectations regarding the settlement amount, a settlement agreement was not reached.

Therefore, Tang was sentenced to two months in prison for negligent homicide, which could be commuted to a fine of NT$60,000 (US$1,900). Tang has the right to appeal the decision.