Trial delayed for doctor accused in fatal Vietnam hit and run

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A Ho Chi Minh City court has delayed the trial of a doctor charged with "violating driving regulations" after he allegedly killed two women and injured seven others in a hit and run two years ago.

The HCMC People's Court delayed the trial on January 25 for further examination into alleged problems with the accelerator pedal and airbags in Dr. Tran Anh Huy's five-seat Toyota Altis.

According to the indictment, Huy, 44, was driving the car on October 7, 2011 after work at the Children's Hospital 1 when he crashed into two cars moving in the same direction due to what the HCMC prosecutors said his poor driving and failure to control the speed.

The car then ran into 13 motorbikes that had stopped at a red light.

Huy managed to flee the scene but was stopped by passers-by and led to a nearby police station.

One woman was killed on the spot while another succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. Seven other people were also injured in the accident. The accident caused a loss of nearly VND100 million (US$4,802), the indictment said.

Police concluded that they detected no technical errors in the brake system. They also said that the steering wheel worked fine and they found no electrical leakage or electricity overload.

At initial hearings, Huy admitted he had some responsibility in the crashes, but he also blamed a faulty accelerator pedal and airbag system.

Huy claimed that the pedal was stuck, making the car suddenly accelerate.

He said that the engine should have been cut off after the airbags released, but his car continued to travel another 200 meters.

According to Huy, even after the airbag had inflated following a crash with one car, his uncontrollably sped up to a velocity of 100 kilometers per hour.

"In two years of using the car, I never ever drove at that frightening speed," he added.

The car was among millions of cars that Toyota called back in 2010 and 2011 for repairs on accelerator pedals, but its Vietnamese subsidiary did not follow the order and changed the structure of the pedals itself instead, he said.

Representatives of Toyota Vietnam said Huy's car was recalled for problems with its switch that control electronic windows.

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