Falling pipes kill one, injure seven in highway crash

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 - Page 3

One person was killed and seven injured when concrete pipes fell from a truck on National Highway No. 3 yesterday, leading to the detention of the truck driver on charges of involuntary manslaughter.

According to a police investigation, 45-year-old Lee Kun-cheng (李坤政) set off from New Taipei City (新北市) with his wife, three daughters and Fu Chi-huang (傅啟皇), the boyfriend of his eldest daughter, to drive to a wedding feast in Changhua County.

Lee said that they had just reached the Jhunan section of National Highway No. 3 when they saw concrete pipes spill into the road, adding that the car was hit by the pipes before flipping over.

“We couldn’t imagine where the pipes came from,” Lee said, adding that although he and Fu only suffered minor injuries, the others in the car suffered more severe injuries.

Lee Kun-cheng’s eldest daughter, 25-year-old Lee Ying-yun (李盈昀), had no heartbeat when admitted to hospital and was declared clinically dead after three hours of emergency surgery, police said, adding that the incident was especially regrettable as Lee Ying-yun and Fu had plans to marry.

Police said the accident occurred at about 4am when the driver of the truck carrying the pipes, surnamed Yeh (葉), was driving to Taoyuan from Greater Taichung.

At the 112.8km mark on National Highway No. 3, the connector linking the truck’s cab to its trailer broke, causing the trailer to crash into the railings before flipping over into the central and inner northbound lanes, while many of the pipes on the trailer landed in the southbound lanes.

Six cars were involved in the accident, police said, adding that Yeh said the truck’s connector had been well maintained and he did not understand why it broke.

Lee’s wife suffered a broken ribcage and facial fracture, and his youngest daughter, 21-year-old Lee Yuan-hsuan (李宛璇), suffered severe head injuries, police said.

Lee’s second-eldest daughter, Lee Chia-wen (李佳玟), 23, suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage and is in a critical condition following an operation, police said.