Probe hints at mechanical fault

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Police investigating the death of a teenager who fell out a moving bus in New Taipei Thursday have hinted at a defective door causing the accident, but stopped short of making a conclusion, a local newspaper reported Friday. “It’s more likely it was a mechanical problem,” police investigators were cited by the Apple Daily as saying after examining the vehicle belonging to Keelung Bus Co. But the investigators did not pinpoint the cause of the accident. The victim, a 15-year-old student surnamed Su, fell out the rear door that had suddenly opened while the crowded bus was reportedly negotiating a bend along Daliao Rd. in Ruifang district. Su, who had been standing on the steps with her younger sister at the rear door, landed in front of the bus wheel and was crushed to death instantly, police said.

Previous speculation blamed the victim for “playing around” on board and after a fellow student pushed her, she landed against the door, which then opened, and she fell out. After examining the bus, the investigators found that there was no button that Su could have inadvertently pushed to open the door, according to the Apple Daily, Instead, one of the hydraulic hinges of the door had a loose screw, which could have resulted in the door opening, the newspaper cited the police findings as showing.

Lin Jui-ming, the chief of the community where the victim’s family is located, dismissed the speculation that Su and her fellow students were playing around on board the bus. Speaking on behalf of the family, Lin said the bus was driving through the bend turn too fast, and the girl stumbled. Despite on-board surveillance camera footage showing her sister seemingly pushing the victim, Lin said the sister was only trying to grab the victim and prevent her from falling. He questioned how a teenager weighing about 30 kilograms could have created a strong enough impact to force the door open when she fell against it.

He said Keelung Bus Co. must take the blame and make remedies. Su’s cousin was cited by the Central News Agency as questioning why online discussions in the wake of the accident had mostly put the blame on the victim. The cousin alleged that the bus company was trying to divert attention from the real cause of the accident. He said that, when the accident occurred, the victim had been traveling to an after-school learning center after regular classes ended.