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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.
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.
Arrested taxi driver
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.
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.
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?
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