The coach driver in last Friday’s fatal crash with a taxi, which killed five people and injured 32 others, died of his injuries in hospital at 2.29pm on Tuesday, a government spokeswoman said.
Fok Chi-sum, 62, had been in a critical condition, having suffered internal bleeding, at Princess Margaret Hospital since the crash. He had also been under police investigation to establish whether he had been dozing off at the wheel and, therefore, if human error should be blamed for the crash.
Government sources said he had been involved in two previous road accidents this year, both of which also happened as he was driving workers to Hong Kong International Airport at night or in the early hours of the morning.
The most recent of Fok’s accidents happened on the Cheung Tsing Highway, Tsing Yi at about 5am last Friday when his coach ploughed into the back of a stationary taxi. The coach was carrying 36 passengers, including 20 workers from the Cathay Pacific Group.
The collision happened 30 to 40 seconds after the taxi broke down and the driver switched on the hazard lights; about 10 other vehicles had overtaken the cab by the time the crash happened, according to the source.
He said it was unlikely the crash was caused by a mechanical fault. “We believe it was human error,” he said.
The source added that “we suspect the [bus] driver was dozing off at the wheel at the time. Otherwise, it would have been impossible for him not to notice the broken-down taxi and be able to swerve out of the path in time”.
According to police, an initial investigation showed that at the time of the crash, the coach was travelling at a speed of about 70km/h in an 80km/h zone.
In one of the two previous cases Fok was involved in this year, on February 3, his coach slammed into the back of a truck near Yam O on the North Lantau Highway on Lantau Island, soon after 5am. Fok and his 15 passengers were injured.
The second crash happened after he resumed driving, having been suspended by his employer from taking the wheel for several weeks to receive training.
“He was also transporting airport workers at the time his coach collided with another vehicle. No casualties were reported in this case,” another source said.
He said police would also look into whether the bus driver had properly fastened his seat belt in the latest crash. Fok was one of four people who were thrown out of the coach. The other three also died in the incident.