Van crash a traffic accident: Shanghai police

The pavement crash where 18 were injured near People's Park in downtown Shanghai on Friday morning was a traffic accident, police said.

The crash in which 18 were injured after a van on fire drove onto a pavement near People’s Park in downtown Shanghai on Friday morning was a traffic accident, according to preliminary police investigation.

Police said the driver, a 40-year-old man surnamed Chen, was braking when he rode onto the pavement. The van's rear brake light was lit up at the time, police said, citing roadside surveillance camera footage.

Street surveillance cameras caught Chen smoking while driving before the crash, police said, adding that he was not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs according to blood test results.

A fire broke out in a third-row seat, where a cigarette butt was found, according to investigators.

Police said there were no other people in the van. 

Officers found a steel cylinder and six liquid gas storage tanks for domestic use in the van, all with their valves closed.

They have also found seven plastic water bottles in the van. Three of the bottles were filled with gasoline, and residue of gasoline was detected in the other four empty ones.

Ti Gong

Chen is smoking while driving, as showed in the street surveillance camera footage.

Chen is currently receiving emergency treatment as he fell into a coma due to cardiac arrest after inhaling too much smoke following the accident, police said.

Chen works for a metal product company in Shanghai and has been illegally delivering gas cylinders recently, police said.

Chen’s wife, surnamed Jin, allegedly said Chen told her on Friday morning before leaving home that he was to make some deliveries.

Chen was making calls for over 10 minutes from 8:42am while driving and smoking, and a fire broke out from a back row when his van turned into Nanjing Road W., police said.

The crash took place about 9am on Nanjing Road W. near Xinchang Road. 

After turning left from Xinchang Road to Nanjing Road W., the van caught fire, lost control and rode onto the pavement where some pedestrians were waiting to cross the street, police said.

Seventeen pedestrians were injured by the van with nine still being treated in hospital and eight already discharged. None were critically injured, police said.

Traffic police officers, firefighters and passers-by helped to extinguish the fire, police added.

Ti Gong

The van's rear brake light was lit up before it rode onto the pavement about 9am, as showed in the street surveillance camera footage.

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