Three members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard unit were injured early Wednesday morning when a drunk driver lost control of her BMW car while driving around Independence Monument and crashed into them near the entrance of the premier’s Phnom Penh villa, police said.
The accident happened at about 1:40 a.m. when the driver, Ung Kolzanich, a 25-year-old saleswoman for BMW, lost control of her vehicle and smashed into a tree where three bodyguards were standing beside their sentry post, said Seng Chanthorn, a municipal traffic police officer.
“She was so drunk and was also driving over the speed limit and could not control her steering, so she crashed into a tree, knocking over motorbikes and the people nearby,” Mr. Chanthorn said, adding that another 25-year-old woman, Tann Kimly, was a passenger in the car.
Mr. Chanthorn said the women had been drinking near Phsar Kabkor market and that two members of the Prime Minister Bodyguard Unit (PMBU)—deputy chief of staff Yin Chan Thuon, 47, and Sing Socheat, 29—were lucky to have escaped with their lives.
“Yin Chan Thuon would have been killed if his bodyguards had not helped to pull him out of the path of the car, since it smashed their motorbikes into the wall,” he said.
“The car got stuck in the tree when it crashed, therefore it did not hit Samdech [Hun Sen’s] house,” he said, adding that both women were being held by traffic police for questioning.
Phnom Penh municipal traffic police chief Chev Hak said the women would be sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today to be questioned further.
Mr. Chanthorn said the car “belongs to the BMW company,” and was being held at the municipal traffic police department.
The two bodyguards were taken to Calmette Hospital for treatment after suffering minor injuries, including swollen legs and bruising, while a third was left bleeding from his ears as a result of the tree falling on him, he said.
General Hing Bun Heang, who heads the PMBU, said all three were still being treated for their injuries Wednesday.
“There were three bodyguards injured…. One got injured in the head and his mouth and ears were bleeding. They were all nearly unconscious,” he said.
Gen. Bun Heang said that if they had been sitting on their motorbikes at the time of the crash, they would have been killed.
“It is lucky that they were away from the tree,” he said.
Peter Brongers, CEO of Premium Auto Import, BMW’s distributor in the country, and which has employed Ms. Kolzanich since January, said last night that he had just heard about the accident.
“We will always take care of our staff, but I don’t have enough information to comment at this stage,” he said.
However, Mr. Brongers denied that the car belonged to his company.
“No, it is not a car from us; it is her own car,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Simon Henderson)
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