The family of an 84-year-old French-Cambodian man who killed a woman with his speeding SUV and injured six others when he tried to flee through a crowded market area of Sihanoukville on Tuesday has appealed to the dead victim’s family to accept compensation with the hope of avoiding jail time, his girlfriend said Thursday.
Heng Kao—who primarily lives with his son and daughter in France but travels to Sihanoukville regularly to visit his 28-year-old girlfriend and their adopted 3-year-old son— suffers from numerous health issues and said his poor eyesight caused him to accidentally hit and kill Chea Kimsak, 41.
After fleeing the scene, Mr. Kao drove his Honda SUV—which was also carrying the toddler—into several other vehicles before finally crashing into a car wash, injuring five employees and a man on a motorbike, according to police.
Mr. Kao’s girlfriend, Chhorn Vannach, said she attended Chea Kimsak’s funeral Thursday to apologize on her boyfriend’s behalf. She also said that his son and daughter in France had been in contact with the dead woman’s family to discuss compensation.
“We are so sorry for this. The crash was a tragic accident that [Mr. Kao] did not intend to happen. But he is very old and he has many health problems including heart disease that require medical treatment, so I think that living inside prison could be life threatening,” Ms. Vannach said.
“I don’t know what we can do, but his son and daughter in France have contacted the victim’s family, and if they accept the compensation, it may be possible to help him.”
The victim’s husband, who identified himself only as “Pet,” confirmed that Mr. Kao’s relatives had been in touch with him but said it was too soon after his wife’s death to discuss money.
“We will consider it as a family first, and we have not decided whether or not to accept the compensation yet,” he said.
Kep Sopheak, the provincial deputy traffic police chief in charge of the case, said neither the family of Chea Kimsak nor those of any other victims had filed a complaint.
“We have yet to receive any complaints from any victims’ families who are involved in the case because they are preparing funeral arrangements or are looking after their wounded relatives,” he said.
But Mr. Sopheak said Mr. Kao —who was charged with careless driving causing death and serious injury, and is in pretrial detention—will be prosecuted regardless of whether complaints are filed.
“We don’t know anything about negotiations for compensation and we did not wait for complaints to be filed, because this is a serious crime. The case is in the hands of the court now, and the suspect will remain in jail until his trial,” he said.