Driver behind deadly car crash in downtown Seoul claims brakes didn’t work

The driver of a car that barreled into pedestrians and killed nine in central Seoul last week has claimed that the brakes of his car did not work at the time of the accident, officials said Tuesday.

The 68-year-old, identified only by his family name Cha, said in police questioning last week that he had hit the brakes when he felt the car malfunction, but they were “stiff” and did not function, the Seoul Namdaemun Police Station chief Ryu Jae-hyeok said.

The sedan darted in the wrong direction for some 200 meters on a one-way road near Seoul City Hall before crashing into sidewalk guardrails, hitting pedestrians and ramming into two other cars on July 1.

The crash left nine people dead, most of them office workers nearby, and seven others injured, while the driver has also been admitted to a hospital for broken ribs.

During the questioning, Cha claimed the accident was caused by sudden unintended acceleration, and he still claims the accident was caused by defects in the car, according to police.

He als
o said he entered the road without knowing it was a one-way street, and it was his first time driving down the particular road.

The police are investigating the case without ruling out the possibility that the driver knew he had been driving in the opposite direction and caused the accident while trying to quickly bail out from the one-way road.

“We expect (the driver) acknowledged he was driving in the wrong direction when he entered the one-way road coming out from the hotel parking lot, but more investigation is needed,” Ryu said, adding no honking sound was found in the black box.

Police plan to question Cha for the second time on Wednesday, and review whether they should seek a search and seizure warrant or an arrest warrant against him.

Source: Yonhap News Agency