Several trials after, drivers face fresh prosecution for fatal accident

By Pham Du   September 6, 2019 | 04:01 am PT
Several trials after, drivers face fresh prosecution for fatal accident
Drivers Ngo Van Son (L) and Le Ngoc Hoang at an appeal trial in November 2018 for causing an expressway crash that killed four people in Thai Nguyen Province in 2016. Photo courtesy of Thai Nguyen police.
Several trials after an accident that killed four people three years ago in northern Vietnam, the two drivers involved will be prosecuted afresh.

Police have recommended criminal prosecution of the two drivers, Ngo Van Son, 41, and Le Ngoc Hoang, 34, after they had completed their latest investigations into the accident that happened in Thai Nguyen Province on November 19, 2016.

To establish their latest findings, the police had the drivers back on the accident site a few weeks ago, on August 22, and a field experiment was conducted with two vehicles placed in the exact positions at the time of the accident.

The police said in a report Tuesday that the two drivers should be prosecuted on traffic violation charges that could see them get jail sentences of 7-15 years each.

On the afternoon of the accident date, Son was driving a seven-seat minivan with 10 passengers on an expressway connecting Thai Nguyen with the capital city of Hanoi when he realized he had missed an expressway exit.

To make sure that he got back on the right track, Son decided to drive the van in reverse on the expressway, even though he was on a section where backing vehicles is prohibited.

At that time, Hoang was driving a tractor trailer on the same lane and in the same direction, behind the minivan. When he was around 70 meters from the minivan, instead of slowing down and stopping, Hoang decided to drive past the reversing van. However, just as he was about to overtake, he saw another tractor trailer in the rearview mirror that was also in the process of overtaking him, forcing him to stay in his lane. This also meant that he only applied his breaks about 10 meters away from the reversing minivan.

He tried to move his truck to the right to avoid a collision, but the distance was too close and the head of the truck crashed into the minivan, crushing three adults and one young boy to death. Six other adults were injured in the accident.

The seven-seat minivan after it was hit by the tractor trailer on Hanoi-Thai Nguyen Expressway in 2016. Photo courtesy of the police

The seven-seat minivan after it was hit by a tractor trailer on Hanoi-Thai Nguyen Expressway on November 19, 2016. Four people including a young boy were crushed to death. Photo courtesy of Thai Nguyen police.

Police said Son violated the rules when he drove the minivan in reverse, but Hoang was also at fault for not slowing down despite a sign asking drivers to drive slowly. Besides, Son had already turned on the warning lights at the back of the minivan.

This accident made headlines and generated controversy as the case went through eight first instance trials, four appeal trials and a trial of cassation.

At an appeal court hearing in November last year, the Thai Nguyen Province People’s Court sentenced Hoang, the tractor driver, to six years and Son, the minivan driver, to nine years in jail. However, Hoang stuck to his assertion that he was not guilty and Son asked for his sentence to be commuted.

Later that same month, the Supreme People’s Court in Hanoi requested investigators to reconsider several factors that led to the collision, including the distance between the two vehicles just before and after the clash and the exact moment and distance when the tractor driver applied the brakes.

At the court of cassation nine days later, the court in Hanoi decided to annul the judgments made previously by the courts in Pho Yen Town and Thai Nguyen Province and decided to have the case re-investigated.

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