The year is 1945 and Cambodian men are packed into traditional longboats, ready to race each other in an event that “has been going on for more than 1,000 years” at the annual Water Festival in Phnom Penh.
An 18-year-old man died and two others were seriously injured after a man they had argued with during Water Festival celebrations at a pagoda in Pailin City plowed into their motorcycle with his pickup truck, police said Monday.
Phy Chantha died shortly after being brought to the provincial hospital on Saturday night while his two companions, Tha Sieng, 16, and Nhanh Ravoan, 18, suffered serious injuries and remain in the hospital, said Uk Kea, Pailin commune police chief.
The man responsible for the incident escaped and police are now searching for him.
“The suspect got involved in a verbal dispute with the three victims at the local pagoda while they were celebrating Water Festival, and later he followed them onto a provincial road where he drove his car into the back of their bike at about 11:40 p.m.,” he said.
Mr. Kea added that none of the young men had been wearing helmets.
The two surviving victims told police that they had exchanged insults with the man—who they said was drunk—inside the pagoda, and he became angry and aggressive. He then followed the three and they continued trading insults on the road before he crashed into their motorcycle.
“When the truck hit them the victims were thrown 10 meters away from the bike and the suspect escaped on foot before the police arrived,” he said.
Mr. Kea said that police were still investigating the incident and that witnesses in the area had seen a man driving a blue Nissan pickup truck—which the suspect abandoned at the scene— purchase alcohol earlier in the evening.
Prak Vikun, provincial traffic police chief, said that the suspect’s vehicle and the victims’ motorcycle had been brought to the provincial police station to be examined.
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