The road-racing children of the country’s elite struck again on Tuesday night as a high-speed race on Monivong Boulevard ended with a 22-year-old man plowing his high-powered vehicle into the railings of a sacred stupa opposite Phnom Penh’s railway station, police said.
The Sakyak Mony Chedey stupa, which until December 2002 contained relics of the Lord Buddha, narrowly escaped damage when the 1998 Toyota Camry smashed through a surrounding iron fence and careened to a stop less than 10 meters from the Buddhist memorial at 11:15 pm, police and witnesses said.
“They were racing together. They were coming from a party. They were drunk,” Mao Sony, traffic accident investigation police chief, said on Wednesday.
Police reports identified the driver as Nom Sinit, a student at the National University of Management, who is the son of a highranking RCAF official.
Newly appointed Traffic Police Chief Tin Prasoer confirmed the driver’s name, but declined to provide further details, adding that the driver would not be charged and the case was closed.
“We solved this already because only a stupa was damaged, not casualties,” Tin Prasoer said, adding that he initially impounded the vehicle but that it was released back to the owner on Wednesday afternoon after he paid his first installment of $700 of a total of $1,500 to repair the damage inflicted to the religious site.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen told government officials to put the brakes on their speeding children, claiming that he would demote those who try to protect their children from prosecution.
Motorbike taxi driver Sok Mao, 28, and several other witnesses to the crash reported on Wednesday that two cars were racing at speeds of over 150 km on Monivong boulevard when one vehicle crashed.
The second car, carrying several young men and women, stopped and a man emerged with a handgun, which he pointed at bystanders as a young man emerged from the crashed car and drove away with them, Sok Mao said.
Srah Chak commune police confirmed the witnesses’ version of events.