Drunk driver who killed two gets six-year sentence

By Pao Chien-hsin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 - Page 3

A court handed down a six-year prison sentence to “Master Yeh” (葉少爺), who killed two people, including a pedestrian, when he crashed his car after he had been drinking in a case that has been heavily scrutinized in the media.

The Greater Kaohsiung District Court ruled that Yeh Kuan-heng (葉冠亨) should be imprisoned after he was found guilty of ploughing his Mercedes-Benz into a dumpster truck, driven by Wang Chia-hsiang (王嘉祥), at the intersection of the Chunghua Road and Kuangfu 1st Road in Greater Kaohsiung on April 25.

Yeh’s car subsequently hit 47-year-old Lee Hsing-jung (李幸蓉) when it spun out of control and also caused the death of Chen Kang-yi (陳岡逸), one of Yeh’s friends who was riding in the front passenger seat. Two female passengers riding in the back of the Mercedes, surnamed Lee (李) and Yang (楊), suffered multiple injuries.

The crash devastated two families, with the Chen family losing their son, while the eight-year-old daughter of Lee Hsing-jung was orphaned after her father, apparently overcome with grief due to his wife’s death, suddenly died four days later due to an acute myocardial infarction.

In May, both Yeh and Wang were prosecuted on charges of violating the Public Safety Act (公共危險罪) while unintentionally causing death.

The prosecution said Yeh was exceeding 100kph at the time of the accident and remained the primary cause of the tragedy, while Wang’s illegal left turn was a secondary factor. The prosecutors suggested Yeh receive the maximum sentence of seven years.

The district court held the trial last month during which Yeh admitted to drunk driving and stated his willingness to apologize to, and compensate, the victims of the crash.

Chen’s father, Chen Ta-ju (陳大儒), had refused an out-of-court settlement and said that the Yeh case should serve as a prompt for the government to amend its laws and place a heavier penalty on drunk driving. He also said he was concerned that Yeh might seek to flee the country if the out-of-court settlement failed, and so he asked the district court to carry out a speedy trial.

The first trial ruling yesterday said that as the site where the accident had taken place was a pedestrian crossing and because Yeh had not yielded to pedestrians, his sentence should be increased by half.

The court ruled that as Yeh was the key perpetrator and given the absence of an out-of-court settlement, he would be given six years.

The court ruled Wang must serve a two-year prison sentence.