USFK vehicle driven by S. Korean employee strikes, kills pedestrian
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A South Korean employee driving a U.S. Army vehicle struck and killed a 45-year-old hearing-impaired woman Tuesday in Bupyoung while she crossed the street against a red light, a South Korean police official said.
Park Tae-hun, who sustained a skull fracture and serious head injuries, was hospitalized after the 12:30 p.m. accident, said Lee Un-chong, an emergency room doctor at Song Mo Chai-ae Hospital. Park died around 4 p.m., Lee said.
The driver of the truck, Park Sang-jin, 31, was arrested and remains in police custody, said police officer Kim Kyong-min. He could be charged with negligent homicide for failing to see Park, Kim said.
Camp Market, a U.S. camp that houses the AAFES bakery and is a warehouse facility, is located in Bupyoung near the larger port city of Incheon, about 20 miles west of Seoul.
The driver’s case will be forwarded to prosecutors in two or three days, Kim said. In South Korea, drivers can be held liable and criminally charged for accidents even if pedestrians are at fault, Kim said.
The vehicle stopped at a crosswalk that didn’t have an overhead traffic signal, Kim said. Park allowed other pedestrians to pass although the crosswalk signal was red, Kim said.
After the pedestrians crossed the street, Park crept forward and ran over the woman, Kim said. He could not see the woman because of the height of his truck and blind spots, Kim said.
A driver on the other side of the road waved his hand to make Park stop his vehicle, Kim said.
Park Sang-jin has worked for the Army Air Force Exchange Service at Camp Market since March 1996, according to information provided by AAFES.
Since he is a South Korean national and is not covered by the status of forces agreement, his case falls under Korean jurisdiction.
The U.S. Army charged two soldiers on the same charge last June after they crushed to death two teenage South Korean girls. The soldiers were driving a 60-ton tracked vehicle on Korean roads as part of a convoy.
The soldiers, Sgt. Mark Walker and Sgt. Fernando Nino, were acquitted in a U.S. military court of two negligent homicide charges each in November.
The acquittals enraged South Korean protesters, who demanded the soldiers should have been tried in Korean courts.
Because of the status of forces agreement, the soldiers’ case fell under military jurisdiction.
Choe Song-won contributed to this report.