A driver hit and killed three people and seriously injured six more on Monivong Boulevard yesterday when he attempted to flee from what was initially a minor accident, but turned into a scene of mayhem with a mob viciously beating the motorist as victims lay strewn on the pavement.
According to Phnom Penh traffic police chief Chev Hak, the man caused carnage yesterday when he drove in the “wrong direction” on the busy thoroughfare at about 5:30pm, with his Toyota Camry ploughing into several motorbikes in Chamkarmon district.
Hak, who did not name the driver, said two women and a man had died, while his deputy Sem Sokunthear said six people, who were “seriously injured”, had been taken to Calmette and Khmer Soviet Friendship hospitals.
“The man is being questioned at the district police [headquarters],” Hak said, though pictures that surfaced later online appeared to show the driver in hospital with serious injuries from the beating.
According to witness Chan Bora, the driver, travelling south, first collided with the back of a Toyota Corolla near the Royal University of Law and Economics, and then knocked over several motorcyclists as he attempted to flee, driving up the wrong side of the road, which is partitioned with a concrete barrier.
“He tried to escape and hit some motorbikes and then turned the car in another direction and ran into other motorbikes and killed people,” Bora, 55, said.
The man’s actions sparked a brutal mob backlash, with footage captured on a mobile phone showing the driver being ripped from the car and pummelled with fists and feet for the duration of the almost three-minute clip, which also pans across the devastating scene showing several broken motorbikes strewn across the road.
The crowd, which soon swelled, then turned their attention to the car, which they smashed and tried to set on fire by dousing it in gasoline, according to witnesses and photos. A fire truck sprayed water to prevent a fire taking hold.
“They were very angry because he killed many people,” Bora said. “They wanted to burn the car, but police stopped them.”
A woman who identified herself as the aunt of the two dead women, whom she said were from Kampong Cham, expressed shock.
“They are cousins [and] one of them was going to be married soon,” she said, declining to give her name.