Survivors of fatal crash accept pay-outs from driver's family

The trial of Christopher Daniel Sjarief continued on Thursday at the South Jakarta District Court with four survivors of the fatal accident in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, on Jan. 20 this year, being presented by prosecutors as witnesses.

During Thursday's hearing, three witnesses said they had come to amicable agreements with Christopher's family and would not press charges against the driver.

Muhammad Arifin, 40, recalled the night of the multi-vehicle crash when his motorcycle was suddenly hit from behind.

"At the time, I knew I was hit by a car, but I was in shock and did not know which car [had hit me]," he told the panel of judges. "Thankfully I did not suffer any serious injury, but my motorcycle was severely damaged," he said.

Arifin said a week later, Christopher's family visited him at his workplace, offering an apology and saying they were ready to take responsibility for the damage.

He said the family also paid him compensation for his motorcycle. "They gave me a settlement agreement and I signed it," he said.

Shortly after Arifin finished his testimony, Budiman Sitorus, another victim, entered the courtroom on a walking stick as his right ankle and left shoulder were broken after his car, in which he was traveling with his friend Rifki Hananta, was hit by a Mitsubishi Outlander driven by Christopher, the son of a wealthy property businessman.

"I heard a very loud crash, but I didn't know what hit me. I tried hard to get up, and I realised that my ankle and shoulder were broken while my head was bleeding," he said. Budiman added that he later underwent surgery at Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta where he was told that it would be unlikely he would fully recover.

The owner of a small business said the injury left him unable to run his business to finance the daily needs of his wife and two children. The family of Christopher compensated him on a regular basis as well as his friend Rifki who sustained minor injuries.

Ade, another survivor who drove a pickup truck, said he had not been contacted by Christopher's family until a few days ago when Christopher's father suddenly contacted him and said he would pay to repair his damaged car.

"I told him that the total repair cost and medical treatment fee was Rp 1 million (S$101), but he sent me Rp 2.5 million instead," Ade said, adding that he did not sign any agreement letter.

During the trial, the panel of judges, chaired by Made Sutisna, raised a number of questions regarding the survivors' own driving practices and compliance with traffic law.

The judges asked Ade, Rifki and Budiman if they had worn their seat belts and if they had driven their cars in the Transjakarta exclusive busway lane. "I just want to make sure your car was dragged into the Transjakarta lane and not that you were driving in that lane instead?" Made said.

The hearing was adjourned until June 4 with prosecutors scheduled to present more witnesses.

On Jan. 20, Christopher lost control of his friend's SUV on Jl. Sultan Iskandar Muda in South Jakarta and crashed into six motorcyclists and two cars on the congested street.

The incident claimed four lives, including that of a police officer.

According to police, the speed of car driven by Christopher allegedly reached 131 kilometers per hour.