A driver was seriously injured when a bridge his truck was crossing on collapsed in Siem Reap province’s Chi Kraeng district and commune on February 25.

Authorities are also searching for the owner of the stone transport business that employed the driver to demand compensation for the damages.

District police chief Taing Lyheng identified the injured driver as Lim Reth, a 37-year-old man living in Daun Sok village of the district’s Kok Thloak Krom commune, who was receiving intensive care at the provincial referral hospital.

“In this case, the driver may have been involved in a criminal offence. To determine who is responsible for compensation for damage to the bridge, the authorities will set up a joint commission and the civil party may be the district or provincial authorities. They will negotiate or sue the owner of the stone transport business for the repair costs,” he said.

Lyheng confirmed that his department was now planning to open an investigation into the truck driver to find out why he violated the ban on heavy vehicles that was in place for the bridge.

“It’s a criminal offence if the bridge is clearly labelled as prohibited for heavy trucks and he violated that by trying to drive across anyway,” he said.

Commune police chief Tiv Ponra said on February 27 that the bridge was built in 2007 but it was not very sturdy and only light-weight vehicles were allowed to cross.

According to the villagers, the incident occurred around noon on February 25 when a green heavy truck carrying about 20 tonnes of stone for construction purposes attempted to cross the bridge and it collapsed when the driver was at the mid-point with the truck falling into the creek below.

According to Ponra, the villagers reported the accident to him and he immediately sought intervention from the district police chief as well and their officers to rescue the driver and investigate what took place.

Following the accident, the driver was stuck in the truck’s cabin and it took police more than three hours to extract him safely given the dangerous conditions on the partially collapsed bridge. He was then rushed to the provincial hospital for treatment.