A grisly double-accident near Sihanoukville on Thursday night killed seven – among them the children of two popular comedians – first when a swerving container truck toppled onto a passenger vehicle, then later when an Angkor Beer truck smashed into police and first responders as they cleared the road, police said.
According to Preah Sihanouk provincial traffic police chief Prum Pao, the first of the two accidents occurred when a Sok Korn Company truck’s container fell onto a vehicle carrying eight passengers, injuring four and killing the rest – including Chi Vireak, 19, son of comedian Chuong Chi, also known as Neay Koy, and Each Vannak, 19, son of comedienne Noy Samnang.
Popular singer Khemarak Sereymon was also injured, Pao added.
The second accident, he continued, happened when an Angkor Beer truck collided with a parked police car as police and first responders were trying to clear the road, then continued on, slamming into a crane, killing the crane operator, and the truck driver’s assistant, as well as one other person.
Police and media reports said that both truck drivers fled the scene.
“Some of the family of the victims have filed a complaint to police about the incident [against Sok Korn and Angkor Beer], and some will file more tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, because some are still having a funeral for their relatives,” Pao said.
Khemarak Phirun, brother of Sereymon, said the injured singer was “imprinted” by the accident, and was still unable to discuss it, adding that his father was among those who had filed a complaint.
Meanwhile, a group of 100 monks assembled at the crash site yesterday to dispel the evil spirits thought by locals to have inhabited the “new cursed accident site”, said organiser Khan Chan Sophal.
However, Ear Chariya, road safety program manager at Handicap International, suggested that the belief that accidents were caused by spirits contributed to their prevalence, because “people see them as something they cannot control”.
“We don’t call it a road accident; we call it a road crash, because we believe that there is a reason or a curse that caused that road crash, [that] it did not happen naturally,” he said, noting that, in actuality, speeding and drunk driving together accounted for some 65 per cent of accidents.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STUART WHITE