Penang bridge crash: Wreckage found in sea with body of 20-year-old driver inside

PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

BUTTERWORTH, Malaysia - It was a heart-wrenching scene at the marine police base in Batu Uban yesterday when family members of college student Moey Yun Peng, 20, gathered for the search operation for him.

A woman, believed to be Moey's mother, was heard crying aloud: "When are you coming home?"

Other family members accompanying the woman declined to talk to the media.

Police investigations have revealed that the 21-year-old Toyota Vios driver tested positive for cannabis.

Tests are still being carried out to determine if the driver was also drunk at the time of the incident on the Penang Bridge at 2.30am on Sunday.

Police investigations revealed that both drivers had been childhood friends "but they were not close," Moey's sister-in-law said.

A dashcam recording and the bridge's CCTV footage showed the two vehicles speeding towards the mainland prior to the collision, which led to the SUV losing control, swerving into the left barricade and plunging into the sea.

The duo had earlier attended a friend's birthday party at a club in Chulia Street in George Town.

At Moey's home in Taman Baiduri, family members waited anxiously for news of the rescue operation and shunned the media.

At about 4pm, marine divers found the white Mazda CX-5 wreckage driven by Moey, but efforts to hoist it were unsuccessful.

The wreckage of the SUV was found 15m away from where it crashed through the bridge's barrier but after about two hours of attempting to lift it, the sky turned dark and the operation had to be postponed.

Marine Police Region 1 commander ACP Rosman Ismail said a body, believed to be Moey's, was found inside.

Curious onlookers stopped their vehicles along Penang Bridge near the scene to observe the operation.

ACP Rosman said the divers found the wreckage on the seabed after the Fire and Rescue Department's team detected it with a sonar scanner.

"The divers secured the car with ropes and linked it to a crane on the bridge.

"But strong currents and poor visibility made things difficult and after four attempts to hoist it out of the water, the rope at the vehicle's wheels broke.

"For the safety of the rescuers, we decided to postpone the operation," he said, adding that it was called off at 7.20pm.

The operation will resume at 9am today.

Earlier at a press conference, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow urged PLUS Bhd to review the height of the barrier on the Penang Bridge.

"If there is a need to heighten the barrier, we will ask PLUS to study the feasibility to have it done," he said.

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