Seven Drown After SUV Drives Off Ferry Landing; Two Survive

Seven people, including five children, drowned in the Bassac River in Kandal province on Sunday evening after the Lexus SUV they were riding in drove off a ferry landing on their way home from a Chinese festival, police said on Monday.

The passengers were members of an extended family who had traveled to Sa’ang district’s Khpoab commune to pay their respects at a relative’s grave as part of the Ching Ming festival. They were returning home at about 7:15 p.m. on Sunday when the driver, Sak Sarak, drove off the landing after mistakenly hitting the accelerator as he tried to maneuver the Lexus RX300 onto a ferry, according to deputy provincial police chief Ven Sovin.

A Lexus SUV in which seven passengers drowned after its driver careened off a ferry landing in Kandal province on Sunday evening is pulled from the Bassac River later in the night, in this photograph provided by police.
A Lexus SUV in which seven passengers drowned after its driver careened off a ferry landing in Kandal province on Sunday evening is pulled from the Bassac River later in the night, in this photograph provided by police.

Mr. Sovin said seven family members drowned—including a married couple, two of their children, and three other children—while Mr. Sarak and one other passenger survived by climbing out of the vehicle’s windows.

“The driver, Sak Sarak, told us he was in a normal state of mind because he drank only around two cans of beer,” he said, adding that Mr. Sarak did confess to driving “a bit wildly” and was arrested after the accident.

“The conclusion is that the driver was responsible for this incident because he drove carelessly,” he said.

Mr. Sarak is being held at the Sa’ang district police station and will be sent to the Kandal Provincial Court today, he said.

Seng Socheat, the district police chief, also said Mr. Sarak had been “a drunk and careless driver.”

A police report he provided identifies the victims of the accident as Koeun Sovannareach, 4; Soeun Sovannarith, 7; Chanthorn Rachana, 8; Rak Chhay Nara, 12; Voeun Kimlang, 13; Khorn Len, 35; and a 35-year-old man whose name is given only as “Voeung.”

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