Two people were killed and a third injured early Friday morning when a pickup truck bearing military number plates smashed into two motorbikes at a stoplight at the intersection of Norodom and Mao Tse Tung Boulevards, before the driver escaped the scene on foot, police said.
Phnom Penh deputy traffic police chief Tin Vansy said that the Toyota Tundra plowed into the two motorbikes at about 3 a.m. as they waited at the junction, killing one woman instantly, while a student driving the second bike died of his injuries at Calmette Hospital a short time later.
“The car crashed into the woman’s and the student’s bikes and continued driving before smashing into the gates of the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.
The impact of the crash was so severe that the leg of the female victim, 41-year-old Khiem Neary, was dismembered and she died at the scene as a result of massive head injuries, Mr. Vansy said.
The second victim was 23-year-old student Sean Veasna, while his passenger, Nguon Ousa, is being treated for his injuries at Calmette Hospital.
“We have not yet made an arrest because the driver of the pickup truck fled the scene on foot,” Mr. Vansy said. The vehicle, which has been impounded at the municipal traffic police headquarters, belongs to the Ministry of Defense under the license registration 09.2.1133.
This is the latest in a spate of hit-and-runs involving government officials, who consistently escape punishment in cases that never make it to court. In November, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap fled the scene of a fatal collision and blamed the crash on his driver, settling with the victims’ families outside of court.
In April, the son of former Kandal provincial police chief Ek Krit, Ek Sovannara, was involved in a crash that killed one man and caused injuries to two men that resulted in their left legs being amputated. He too blamed his driver and settled out of court with the victims.
But Mr. Vansy insisted that Friday’s crash would be investigated.
“We are now investigating and searching for the driver through the vehicle registration and are cooperating with the Ministry of Defense beginning [today] to find the car’s owner,” he said.
According to Mr. Vansy, the driver removed his plates from the car before he escaped the scene, but a photographer from a local newspaper managed to get a picture of the license plates beforehand.
A widow and mother of three, Khiem Neary stayed at Wat Svay Pape in Phnom Penh and earned money for her children, who live in Takeo province, by fortune telling, Mr. Vansy said. Sean Veasna was a member of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, a youth group headed by Prime Minster Hun Sen’s son, Hun Many, he said.
Funerals have already taken place for the victims, but 29-year-old Sean Pros, older brother of the deceased student, said that people acting as representatives for the driver came to the family’s house during the funeral to donate one million riel (about $250) and promised to return after the seventh day of mourning to discuss compensation.
“They came to the house but they refused to give the name of the driver,” he said, adding that his family were now grieving and would demand no less than $10,000 as compensation for their loss.