Senior Lawmaker Left Scene of Crash That Killed Woman

Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap left the scene of a fatal traffic accident in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district on Friday morning that occurred when the SUV he was traveling in collided head-on with a young couple on a motorbike, leaving the woman dead and her husband critically injured, police and witnesses said Sunday.

Hang Phanara, district traffic police chief, said the crash at about 9:30 a.m. on National Road 1 in Samraong commune was the result of the couple’s attempt to overtake a truck laden with furniture.

When Moeun Tha and his wife, Pin Sophea, both 26, crossed into the oncoming lane, they plowed into the front of a Lexus SUV transporting Mr. Yeap to Phnom Penh, Mr. Phanara said.

“The couple were on their way to Prey Veng province to visit their parents,” Mr. Phanara said, adding that Pin Sophea died of head trauma at 5 p.m. on Friday at Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital, where her husband remains in critical condition.

Although witnesses said Mr. Yeap’s car did not stop following the collision, Kar Savuth, the parliamentarian’s lawyer, said his client had done nothing wrong.

“I got a phone call from Mr. Yeap after the accident…and went to the scene right away and talked to [witnesses]” Mr. Savuth said.

“They said the motorbike had been in the wrong. Usually, those in the right never help wrongdoers, but his excellency has sympathy for the family,” Mr. Savuth said, adding that Mr. Yeap has donated “more than $1,000” to the dead woman’s relatives.

Asked why Mr. Yeap had not got out of the car to check on the unconscious pair, or even stopped, Mr. Savuth said the decision had not been the lawmaker’s to make.

“It was his bodyguard who told the driver to keep going,” Mr. Savuth said, adding, “It was his driver who hit them. [Mr. Yeap] never drives himself, you know.”

Witnesses to the deadly hit-and-run accident said Sunday that the couple had been carried off the road by local villagers after being thrown from their motorbike by the SUV, and had then lain injured and bleeding on a blanket for over 30 minutes before receiving medical attention.

“I was hanging out in front of my house when I heard the bang and I saw the two lying there,” said Nong Vathana, 42, who runs a small snack shop out of his home that abuts the recently paved stretch of road where the accident occurred.

“The black SUV slowed down a little bit after the collision, but then it sped up and kept going,” Mr. Vathana said.

“The bike got trapped under the SUV and was dragged a long way from where [the couple] fell. The bike was completely crumpled,” he added, waving his hand to indicate the roughly 50 meters the motorbike had traveled while wedged beneath Mr. Yeap’s car.

Inside the district police station, the Honda Today motor scooter  that the husband and wife had been riding on was barely recognizable. Its seat, handlebar and wheels were a tangled mass of metal and plastic.

At Calmette Hospital on Sunday, Mr. Tha’s sister, Moeun Sina, said her brother was in critical condition with a ruptured kidney.

“The doctor said he can still recover,” Ms. Sina said, adding that her sister-in-law had arrived at the hospital with a broken arm, hip and leg, and a fractured skull before succumbing to her injuries.

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