Bus collision in Gyeonggi kills two, injures 43

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Bus collision in Gyeonggi kills two, injures 43

A novice bus driver ran a red light, resulting in a tragic accident that killed two people and injured 43.

The Gangseo Police Precinct said Thursday that two buses collided on Gonghang-daero, east of Gimpo International Airport in Gangseo District, western Seoul, during the rush hour Wednesday evening.

In the accident, two died and 43 people were injured. Of the wounded, one is in critical condition and four others were seriously wounded.

The accident happened when a Gyeonggi bus No. 60-3 travelling westward at 60 kilometers per hour (37.3 miles per hour) ran a red light. Another Gyeonggi bus, No. 22, was making a U-turn and was smashed in the right side in the back. The worst injuries were on the No. 22 bus.

Police said the driver of the No. 60-3 bus, who is surnamed Kwon, 32, admitted that the light was red before he reached the intersection. He stepped on the brake after seeing the other bus but it was too late. Kwon had worked only two months as bus driver.

“Since it was during commuting hours, there were no empty seats and many of the passengers were bleeding,” said a passenger on the No. 22 bus. “Windows were broken and it’s fortunate that I wasn’t thrown from the bus.”

One of the victims, a 19-year-old named Bae, and the passenger in critical condition, a 19-year-old named Lee, were a couple. Bae, who was sitting on the right side of the back seat of bus No. 22, died at the scene and Lee, who was sitting next to her, suffered a severe brain hemorrhage.

The accident shed light on reckless driving habits of Gyeonggi bus drivers. Experts said Gyeonggi bus operators should receive more safety education. Unlike operators of Seoul buses, which are semi-public, all Gyeonggi bus operators are private. They don’t receive much safety education.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the number of people who die in accidents involving Gyeonggi buses in Seoul is on a slow rise, from 10 in 2012 to 11 in 2013 and 13 last year. The city government said they account for 25 to 30 percent of the entire number of bus accident victims in Seoul.

“The working environment and safety education of Gyeonggi buses are known to be much worse than Seoul,” said Yun Hyeok-ryeol, a senior researcher on traffic systems at the Seoul Institute. “The Gyeonggi [provincial government] should strengthen its safety training for drivers.”

BY CHAE YOON-KYUNG, JANG HYUK-JIN [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]
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