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4 die, 12 others hurt as runaway school bus plows into pedestrians

10 December 2018

Emergency crew at work. The SUN Photo.

A school bus that had just been parked by its driver rolled down Cheung Hong street in North Point this afternoon (Dec. 10), sped across King’s Road and plowed through 16 pedestrians, killing four of them, police said.

Media accounts of the accident indicated that none of those who died were Filipinos. The names of the fatalities, who were aged 70 to 83, were Chinese. It is not yet sure, however, if there were Filipinos among the 10 persons injured, eight of them seriously.

What used to be goods peddled on the corner litter the path left by the school bus.

Mimie Alma Barrientos, in a comment in The SUN’s Facebook post on the incident, said: “Nakita ko yan, yong mga nadisgrasya nagtitinda yan sa gilid.”

Emergency crew briefs the press.
One officer told The SUN that when the accident happened at around 1:45 pm, the bus had no one on board.

Its driver had just gotten off when the school bus rolled down the steep hillside road. He used his body to try to stop the bus, but was run over. 

Police, fire and ambulance service officers who came to the rescue of the victims could not immediately tell the nationalities of the casualties.

The sidewalk stall smashed by the school bus usually had Filipino buyers on any given day. But Joel Oronan of the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section said police could not yet tell by evening if there were Filipinos among the casualties. 

A dashboard video footage posted on several news pages showed the driver getting off the school bus on Cheung Hong St. while holding his phone, and ran in front to stop it when he noticed that it had moved downhill. He was knocked under the vehicle as the school bus sideswiped a taxi coming from Fort St. and then accelerated towards the junction with King’s Road. Watch a dashboard camera video of the incident:

In a briefing, an investigator said the vehicle was parked about 50 meters on the left side of Cheung Hong St. when the vehicle rolled forward, mounted the pavement after hitting a taxicab, and was deflected back on to the street by the wall of a  restaurant and hit another taxicab. 

The runaway school bus then crossed King’s Road, mounted the left pavement of Hei Wo St. and plowed into several people and a sidewalk stall. Collision with the first building it hit deflected the bus, which then crashed into the entrance of a shop on the other side of the narrow street.

The shop next to that is AGL Mobile Express which caters to Filipino clients. Its owner, Simon Hui, said he heard a loud crash outside. When he checked, he saw the school bus in front of his front door.

He said police told them to stay inside while investigation was going on.

In its wake, the school bus left a trail of bodies, blood and crushed goods that were being sold earlier at the sidewalk stall it hit. Three persons were seen trapped under the bus.

As the crowd of onlookers grew, emergency crews arrived, and took the 14 casualties to waiting ambulances. By 3:15 pm, after the last of the victims had been evacuated, rescue personnel packed up their gear, leaving police investigators to determine what caused the accident. The swarm of uniformed personnel had also thinned. 

As the emergency unfolded, King’s Road and nearby streets were closed, and vehicles were rerouted to nearby streets.                                                                                                                                                                                                               

In the media briefing at 5pm, an investigator said the driver—who suffered serious injuries in the neck, head and other parts of the body – may have forgotten to deploy the handbrake, allowing the school bus to move.

Initial investigation on the vehicle showed the handbrake was not deployed properly. This, he said, would be the center of investigation to determine if the driver would be held criminally liable.

A woman, who looked and sounded like a Filipina OFW, was heard on video posted by Chinese news website tearfully reporting to her employer. “I don’t know Ma’am,” she cried on the phone. But she did not appear injured. Watch: (

OFWs' comments on two Facebook posts of The SUN, some recounting their experiences, illustrate the Filipino community's proximity to major events in Hong Kong.

“Buti na lang nakatawid na ako diyan bago nangyari. Kawawa naman yung mga namatayan at nadisgrasya,” recounted Mye Balsomo.

Cherry Dasalla, on the other hand, said she used to pass by that spot coming from the market, but had to meet a friend at another street corner when the accident happened. “Kaya na-shock ako nang tawagan ako ni Amo because she’s worried about the accident. God is good talaga,” Dasalla said.

Nhelz Canong Castillon posted the most detailed of these stories: "Jan ako bumibili ng tinapay balak ko dadaan doon bago magsundo sa school sa alaga ko...Ng akmang tatawid na ako papunta doon tumawag s ma'am na hintayin ko nlng sila sa north point mtr huwag daw ako bibili ng pangbreakfast for tomorrow kasi nakabili na siya. .. Pagbaba ko lng ng cp kasi lakad nlng ako Punta north point mtr mga Tao nagsisigawan na sa likod ko may mga tumatakbo at kumukuha ng video ... Grabi kaba ko call talaga n ma'am nagsave sa akin.. Nong nagkita na Kami sa mtr pinakita niya ang video sa akin at sabi niya thank you God my auntie is ok....
Hanggang dumating na kami sa bahay kinakabahan ako at s ma'am naman salita ng salita na kailangan mag ingat ako lalo na sa araw araw na paglalakad namin ng alaga ko."

Julie T. Dela Cruz declared: "Ito yung school bus ng alaga ko buti na lang hindi pa sila nakakalabas sa school kanina. So sad. Kawawa naman si mamang driver."

“Kita nga dito sa kwarto ko. Lagi kami diyan nababa,” said Yehlen Jayjoyce .

“Mabuti na lang di ako nag-market today dahil malamig sabi ng mga amo ko,” said Wenelyn Cabantac.

“Sana walang Pinay,” Rosalia Goloyugo wished.

Vermudo Florentine had a final advice: “Ingat sa mga nalabas ng bahay at pray lagi.”

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