A Provincial Court judge acquitted a Richmond man of dangerous driving causing death, despite finding the accused had accelerated his Audi to almost three times the posted speed limit a block before the 2015 crash.
Judge Gregory Rideout presided over the six-day trial of Ken Chung earlier this year. Chung was charged after crashing into popular Chinese-Canadian doctor Alphonsus Hui before 9 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2015 at Oak Street and 41st Avenue in Oakridge.
“In this case there were fatal and tragic consequences arising from the accused’s objectively dangerous driving conduct as result of his excessive speeding,” Rideout ruled on May 25. “There is at least a reasonable doubt that such conduct amounted to a marked departure from the standard of a reasonably prudent driver.”
Chung was driving an Audi that struck Hui’s 2012 Suzuki SX4 at 119 kilometres per hour in the intersection. Hui had been traveling southbound on Oak Street and was trying a left-hand turn to go eastbound on 41st Avenue. Chung’s silver Audi struck Hui’s Suzuki on the passenger side. Hui’s car spun, became airborne and hit a fire hydrant and advertising sign outside a Petro-Canada station. Cardiologist Sui Him Chan witnessed the crash and, with help of other bystanders, extricated Hui from the vehicle. Chan administered CPR until an ambulance arrived. Hui, however, died at the scene.
Rideout ruled there was evidence that Chung saw Hui’s Suzuki and did not expect Hui would turn in front of him as he entered the intersection. He found that Chung had the right of way and that there was insufficient evidence to establish whether Hui signalled to make the left turn.
“Additionally, the accused did engage the brakes of his Audi as he entered the intersection which I infer is more consistent with attention, rather than, inattention to the hazard posed as Dr. Hui made his left hand turn,” said Rideout’s reasons for judgment.
Crown counsel Jocelyn Coupal submitted that Chung had been overtaking vehicles while driving in the curb lane, came within a half-second of rear-ending a right-turning vehicle in the curb lane in front of him, and did not see or could not have seen Hui’s vehicle in the intersection.
Chung did not testify in his defence. His lawyer, Richard Fowler, claimed Chung momentarily accelerated his high-powered Audi to an excessive speed and claimed he had been driving at the posted speed limit for all blocks on Oak Street south of 42nd Avenue.
Rideout relied on five witnesses and dashboard camera footage of the incident, as well as two Vancouver Police officers and an engineer. One of the police officers, Const. Uwe Rieger, testified that Chung was speeding at 143 km-h between 42nd and 41st avenues.
Rideout found Shedrack Katarama to be the most helpful witness. Katarama testified that the Audi merged onto the Oak Street Bridge from Bridgeport Road in Richmond and he observed the Audi to be “in a hurry” causing him and another driver to apply their brakes. He later saw the Audi behind him while he was driving at 50 km-h until 42nd Avenue, when the Audi passed him at a high speed, in the curb lane between 42nd and 41st before the collision.
“The accused’s conduct may be objectively dangerous such that it departed from the standard of care of a reasonable driver in the circumstances, but there is at least a reasonable doubt that it amounted to a marked departure from the standard of care,” Rideout wrote.
Hui, born in 1947 in Guangdong, China, moved to Hong Kong with his family when he was three. He immigrated to Canada in 1966 to study for a medical degree at Montreal’s Loyola College and the University of Toronto. He founded his Oakridge practice in 1977.
Hui’s obituary said he enjoyed singing, ballroom dancing, fishing, skiing, windsurfing and playing tennis and table tennis. He was also a leading member of the New Life Stem Cell Society to “increase registration amongst ethnic minorities, redressing cultural reluctance to donate, specifically in Chinese-Canadians.”
The case is under Crown review on whether there may have been an error in law that would give rise to an appeal. UPDATE (June 14): The B.C. Prosecution Service announced that the verdict will be appealed. It issued a statement that said there were errors in the judge’s ruling and the public interest requires an appeal.
While NDP Attorney General David Eby wrestles with ICBC’s $1.3 billion deficit, the Chung acquittal is the third dangerous driving incident to gain attention this spring.
On May 15, a judge in Richmond banned Michael Wing Sing Fan from driving for a year and fined him $1,800 after the real estate agent pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention. Family and friends of deceased cyclist Bradley Dean were outraged that Fan was not charged with a more serious offence for driving into a group of cyclists on River Road in Richmond on a Sunday morning in November 2016. Fan had been partying all night at the Starlight Casino before getting behind the wheel.
On May 8 in North Vancouver Provincial Court, 23-year-old Yihao Wang was fined $750 after he pleaded guilty to driving his $300,000 Ferrari at 210 km-h over the Lions Gate Bridge last July 4. Wang’s July-imposed, 16-month driving ban continues until November.
UPDATE (June 10): Hui’s daughter, Monique Hui, launched an online petition aimed at convincing the Deputy Attorney General to file for an appeal of Chung’s acquittal.
Hui wants to forward the petition on June 15, ahead of the June 24 deadline.
“My father was robbed of seeing my brother get married and continuing his unyielding service to his more than 1,000 patients and multiple non-profit organizations that he gave his time and energy to. My twin baby boys will never get to meet their grandfather,” Monique Hui wrote.
“We are concerned the government and our courts are not doing enough to keep drivers who speed excessively off our streets. Ken Chung is still driving and it’s only a matter of time that he and others like him will hurt or kill again. I pray it is not your family or loved ones. The pain is too much to bear.”
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