Truck driver

Taiwan truck driver jailed for killing 49 in train crash – Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A Taiwanese truck driver was sentenced Friday to nearly eight years in prison for causing the island’s worst train disaster in decades, which left 49 people dead and more than 200 injured.

The April 2021 accident was caused by a railway maintenance truck which slid down an embankment moments before a crowded train passed through the eastern coastal city of Hualien.

The vehicle was stuck in bushes on a nearby road.

Prosecutors said truck driver Li Yi-hsiang, 50, and his assistant tried to free him with a cloth strap attached to an excavator, but the attempt failed and instead the vehicle fell on the railway.

Li’s actions “resulted in heavy casualties and seriously affected social order while causing physical and emotional trauma to many victims,” ​​the Hualien District Court said in a statement while jailed for homicide. by negligence.

His assistant, a Vietnamese national, was acquitted by the court which cited insufficient evidence of his participation in the “central act” of the accident, which consisted of tying the truck with the fabric strap which could not support the weight.

Li did not contact rail authorities or alert the train driver after the truck slid onto the track, then did not call police or 911 after the crash, prosecutors said.

A lawyer for the families of the victims has pledged to appeal the decision because they believe the sentence was too short, the Central News Agency reported.

Li was part of a contracted railroad maintenance team that regularly inspects eastern Taiwan’s mountainous train line for landslides and other hazards.

He was working shoring up a steep hill at the scene of the accident.

The last major train derailment in Taiwan before this incident was in 2018, when 18 people died on the same line.

The train driver in this case was sentenced last year to four and a half years in prison for negligent homicide for speeding and other misconduct.

Taiwan’s deadliest rail disaster ever occurred in 1948 when a train caught fire and 64 people perished.