Driver in deadly Seoul car crash argues sudden acceleration in police questioning

July 5, 2024

The driver involved in a recent car crash that killed nine pedestrians in central Seoul argued a sudden unintended acceleration caused the accident in the first police interrogation.

The questioning comes three days after the 68-year-old man’s Genesis G80 sedan plowed through a sidewalk guardrail and hit pedestrians while traveling against traffic on a one-way road near Seoul City Hall on Monday night.

A total of nine people were killed, including six who died at the scene, most of them office workers nearby. Seven other pedestrians were injured, while the driver has also been admitted to a hospital for broken ribs.

The Namdaemun Police Station said it sent investigators to the hospital to question the driver, identified only by his surname Cha, on Thursday afternoon.

Cha has claimed that his car suddenly accelerated out of control and the brake did not work at the time of the accident, although he tried to apply the brake.

He reiterated his earlier stance during the interrogation, the police said.

Some initial findings, however, contradict his claim. Based on an ongoing analysis of the sedan’s event data recorder (EDR), police suspect that the driver significantly pressed the accelerator shortly before the accident.

Police also discovered that the secondary brake light did not illuminate during the accident, and no skid marks were found at the scene, findings that contradict the driver’s claim of having applied the brake.

The questioning took place for about two hours from 2:45 p.m., with the driver’s lawyer present. Further investigations will be conducted, according to the police.

Investigators only questioned the driver about the circumstances of the accident in the initial questioning.

They are expected to question the grounds for his claim of unintended acceleration and why he entered the road against traffic, as well as other details regarding his vehicle in follow-up investigations.

The previous day, a Seoul court denied an arrest warrant requested by the police for the driver, saying that he has no reason to evade police questioning, as he is currently hospitalized and under police protection for his personal safety, the officials said.