Bus Driver Sentenced to 4 Years for Negligent Death

[Kaohsiung City] The driver of an intercity bus that crashed into the central traffic divider on the National Freeway in September last year, killing six, and injuring 11, was sentenced to a 4 year, 2 month prison term today, August 29.

See Previous Story: 6 Dead, 11 Injured in Freeway Bus Crash.

The Qiaotou District Court determined that Wu Xiesong (吳協松) was guilty of professional negligence causing death. Video evidence presented showed that Wu had been looking down beside him while rummaging around for something, and not paying attention to traffic conditions ahead while driving at over 100 kilometers per hour.

prosecutor presenting photographic evidence
A district prosecutor presenting photographic evidence during an inquiry into a fatal bus crash in September 2017.

Immediately after the crash, which occurred shortly before midnight, September 11, 2017, Wu had told police investigators that the accident was the result of a black car with no tail lights suddenly appearing in front of him. The video footage from internal and external driving monitors showed that this was clearly not the case.

Media reports at the time the video footage was released suggested that Wu may have been searching for his mobile phone. However, Wu argued in court that it was a hot evening, and he had been trying to find a pack of wet tissues in order to wipe perspiration from his face in the moments before the crash.

When Wu looked up, there was a car braking just meters in front of the coach. Wu slammed on the brakes and jammed the steering wheel hard left, sending the bus out of control, and careering into the central traffic divider.

driver apologizes to family of dead passenger
Wu is seen apologizing to grieving family members after a fatal bus crash in September 2017.

Neither Wu, nor the passengers were wearing seat-belts at the time of the crash. Some of the passengers were thrown out of the bus as it scraped along the traffic divider for around 100 meters. Wu held onto the steering wheel, but finally lost his grip and also fell out of the bus as it came to a complete stop against the frame of an electronic toll collection(ETC) pole.

In considering the sentence, prosecutors referred to two recent professional negligence causing death cases; one involving a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Tainan City, and the Kaohsiung gas explosion case.

The sentence of 4 years and 2 months can be appealed.

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