Driver of taxi clipped by TransAsia plane still traumatised

Driver of taxi clipped by TransAsia plane still traumatised

The taxi driver who narrowly escaped death when a TransAsia Airways flight hit his vehicle on Wednesday morning is still in a state of shock, Taiwan media reported on Friday.

According to reports by Central News Agency, Mr Chou Hsi-tung, 52, said his mind was a complete blank when the plane hit his taxi. The impact left the vehicle completely damaged with its hood crushed in and its windshield smashed.

In a recording released by the taxi company, Mr Chou could be heard telling the command centre personnel that his vehicle had been hit by a plane on the highway.

Mr Chen Guan Yu, the person at the other end of the line, then asked Mr Chou if he was referring to a remote-controlled toy plane. He was shocked when Mr Chou told him it was a passenger jet and seemed unable to comprehend the situation the driver was in.

A frazzled Mr Chou was so traumatised that he did not seem to understand Mr Chen's questions either. When asked if there was anyone hurt, all he could seem to say was that his passenger was trapped in the wrecked vehicle, and urged Mr Chen to call for an ambulance immediately. The helpless driver also asked Mr Chen if he could contact his family for him.

A company spokesperson told reporters that the road was covered in oil when Mr Chou alighted from his taxi. The female passenger in his taxi was in disbelief and did not respond to the driver's calls for her to come out of the vehicle.

She also said that Mr Chou had been unable to sleep and was trembling non-stop after the accident. He was also fearful of taking a shower due to the wounds and glass shards found all over his head and body.

Video footage from a vehicle behind showed that the distressed driver had stepped out of his vehicle after the plane landed in the river below. With uneven steps, Mr Chou made his way to the side of the bridge and looked down to ascertain that it was indeed a plane which had hit his taxi. He also touched his eyes and looked down at his arms which were badly cut by shattered glass during the accident.

Taiwan's TVBS news reported that the taxi was a mini-van that could carry up to 300kg in load. It is believed that the taxi was able to stay upright upon impact because it was a heavy-duty vehicle.

ljessica@sph.com.sg

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