Taxi Drove into Flooded Street, Driver Abandoned Car and Left Two Passengers Drowned

| August 9th, 2009

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[Sohu] After days of heavy rain in Chongqing, streets were flooded with water. The underpass at the “Dragon Head Temple” (龙头寺) train station cumulated 1.58 meters of water on the morning of August 5th 2009. While driving through the underpass, a taxi with 5 passengers was submerged by flood, resulting 2 deaths. One of the two drowned passengers was a 2 year old boy. Taxi driver Wen Hui (文辉) who abandoned passengers in order to save his own life was arrested.

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According to the deceased boy’s mother, on the morning of August 5 their entire family was riding in the taxi on their way home from the train station. 5:40 am, the taxi was about to drive through the underpass of Baohua Road. Everyone soon noticed water already flooded up to the top of the tires. So they yelled at the driver to hurry up and turn back, but the driver did not listen and continued to drive forward. Soon the entire car was flooded. The driver then opened the door and swam away from the sinking car, ignored passengers who were still in the car crying for help. Because driver opened the car door, water poured into the car, taxi was rapidly sinking. In the end only 3 passengers made it out alive.

At 6 am fire fighters arrived to the sense and started rescue effort. Unfortunately they found the 2 year old boy in the passenger seat and a woman in the backseat were already dead.

According to Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau Traffic Management Bureau, days of heavy rain caused flooding of “Dragon Head Temple” train station Bao Hua road underpass. Traffic department already put up the traffic cones to forbid vehicle to drive through this underpass on the August 4th. The taxi driver Wen Hui was arrested and the details of the accident are still under investigation.

At the scene

“About 5:50 am, a young man drenched in water running from the underpass, shouting for help.” A witness said, he asked the man and learned this man is the taxi driver and his car was stuck and flooded in the underpass, and there were still 5 passengers in the car. “I can’t swim so I can only call the police.” When he looked into the underpass he saw the water already covered almost the entire car, only the top of the taxi was visible. After he hurried and called police, when he turned around the driver was no way to be found,

According to another bystander, the taxi was not the only car drowned in this underpass. Another private owned Ford Focus was also still in the water. The owner of this car told the reporter that he also drove into the flood the day before. His car engine stopped because of the high water level. So he left the car, and later that night attempted to push the car out of the water with 6 other guys. But they were not able to get the car out, so he went home. This morning he returned to the scene and found out about this tragedy.

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Taxi Driver “after the incident, I regret very much”

Reporter met with the taxi driver Wen Hui. At the time his wife and daughter also came to see him, but they were stopped by the police. When he learned the news that he caused 2 deaths, Wen immediately broke down and started to cry.

Reporter: Why do you have to drive though the underpass?

Wen: It was raining heavily at the time. I did not see the police cones, when I noticed it was too late.

Reporter: Why don’t you rescue the boy?

Wen: The water already flooded the driver seat under a few seconds. I was scared so escaped first.

Reporter: How do you feel knowing 2 passengers drowned in your car?

Wen: After this incident, I regret very much, not only I am sorry to the victim’s family but also sorry to my family, hope they can forgive me.

A Chongqing Lawyer says, the taxi driver knowing the risk and the circumstances but still let the accident happen is constituted the crime of negligence. Not taking any rescue measures when accident happened in fact constituted intentional and indirectly causing death. The punishment for causing traffic accident can be sentenced to 1 to 3 years, but coupled with negligence and causing death may add up the sentence to be 6 to 7 years.

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The woman sitting at the left side of the backseat died because the door can not be opened. Many taxi’s left back side door can not be opened because of the child safety clock.  20090809-taxi-drown-05

This story stirred up debates

We know when the Titanic was sinking the captain let all the passengers to escape first, then the staff members, captain is the last. This is not only “morality”, but more of basic professional ethics. Therefore this taxi driver being called “run run” (Netizens already came up with slang for the driver calling him ‘Wen Run Run’) seems difficult to refute. But most importantly is taxi driver the only person who is responsible for this incident?

Some of the arguments are “Drivers have no obligation to sacrifice their lives to save passengers?”; “Driver is not the murderer, nor is the person who is the most responsible”; “Do not let driver become the fall guy who takes full responsibility”. Some netizens questioned the city constructions being not up to par, because of a malfunction of the sewer system “letting citizens drown in the heart of the city.” Some questioned police department, “putting up a few orange cones in front an underpass which is flooded up to 1.6 meters is sufficient?” “This taxi is not the only car that didn’t see the cones and drove into the flooded street”.

Who do you think should be responsible for this incident?

10 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Xiao Wang says:

    Cmon. I see plenty of stories in China where people fuck up by accident or deliberately but this guy clearly isn’t to blame to an extent where a prison sentence is in order. First of all if there is 1.6 meters of water in the underpass and it has been like that for at least 24 hours the police should have blocked the road with more than a few cones that noone can see in heavy rain. Secondly if you are stuck in a car flooded with water and you can’t swim can you really blame someone for panicking and trying to get out? Can you reasonably expect that person to jump back into the water to help people afterwards? This is a freak accident where the authorities and the driver share a small amout of guilt but hardly enough to impose a long prison sentence. It is also kinda hard to blame the driver since the 4 adults in the car after 3 of them got out couldn’t manage to help the remaining two.

  2. Qi says:

    That taxi driver is a moron, total negligence. How would you like to be driven into deep water while you sitting in the backseat, and by the way the door on your side does not open, and when the car goes into the water driver will open his door and leave, so that water will pour in from the front… and your 2 year old nephew is also in the car…. He clearly has his share of the responsibilty, yes it is an accident, and accidents happen, but he reacted poorly, very poorly, he didnt even try… come on 1.6 meters? its not even that deep… therefore he is a moron, guilty of being a moron. And yes police should be responsible too, they are guilty for negligence as well, for just puting up a few cones and calling a day…

  3. jay says:

    Its just the streets of China,…

    I’m wondering, why did he drive into 1.6 meters of water? didnt he notice it was getting past his windows? if its so high, why continue forward? Even when the passengers told him to turn back why keep going? was he panicking that much already? I definitely think he deserves some jail time for this. when someone else dies because you’re idiot, being a moron is not an excuse or justification for protection.

  4. Colin says:

    “Driver is not the murderer, nor is the person who is the most responsible”

    That statement is wrong, why? The driver was in control of the vehicle, therefore in control of the destination that the passengers were going. He negligence to see the traffic cones and the rising water is what cause this incident.

    Even if he did save them from drowning, his actions is what caused this accident in the first place.

  5. janedoe says:

    I can certainly understand that everyone else in the car was unaware the the door on the left side of the car would not open but if the 2 year old was in the car (assuming he was in the middle), why didn’t the person on the RiGHT side of the car grab him to get him out?
    IT would seem to me that that person while not being to blame, should at least feel like fecal matter for not grabbing him.
    Certainly he or she would have thought that the left passanger could have opened the door but I do not understand why they would leave it to chance that the two year old would get out….what a horrible way for him to drown….probably still strapped inside of his car seat. This is a shame AND a crime.

  6. Griffin says:

    It is probably a case of criminal negligence, but in my honest opinion it sounds like both the driver and the city council are equally responsible of said criminal negligence.

    Another example from China which came out of (I think) Shanghai:
    Subway underground tunnels being contructed
    large section of road opened up
    giant pit three stories deep exposed and in the middle of the road
    said pit is haphazardly covered up by some flat pieces of wood and metal
    not securely closed or covered
    definitely not stable or safe enough to drive over
    and ofcourse…
    ROAD NOT ADEQUATELY CORDONED OFF OR BLOCKED
    So again a driver (or drivers) drove through the minimal warning signs or cones easily and unbeknownst to the dangers and FELL THROUGH THE GIANT HOLE IN THE ROAD.

    That is outright criminal negligence however you want to look at it.

    The taxi driver was a coward and an idiot, but he isnt responsible outright.
    The other people who escaped with their lives are no different.
    Panic must have played a very large part in this accident for 2 lives to be lost in water so shallow.
    The city road safety department is responsible for the factors which led to this having been possible in the first place.

    I wonder how much money they will pay the family in compensation for their dead child.

  7. Sadye Dubois says:

    heya. I came upon this kind of internet page plus I really should say that this unique is a amazing posting. Kudos for this specific important information.

  8. OhGod, I don’t think my driver knows automatically what does “shortcuts” mean

  9. Rachel says:

    The government is to be blamed for even ‘building’ these kinda underpass that ‘collects’ water

  10. Curren$y says:

    1.6 meters lol chinese ppl so short that they drown in a puddle

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