Facial recognition tech catches fugitive 19 years after hit-and-run

A man who was at large for 19 years after a hit-and-run crash that killed a police officer has been arrested and jailed, according to Jinshan District People's Court.

A man who was at large for 19 years after a hit-and-run crash that killed a police officer has been arrested and jailed, according to Jinshan District People’s Court.

The incident occurred on June 10, 1998, when then 19-year-old Yang Mianhai, who was unlicensed, was behind the wheel of an unlicensed motorized tricycle on his way from Shanghai to Zhejiang transporting vegetables. At the time he made a living by illegal transport.

When he was driving to the Jinwei checkpoint on the Huhang Highway, he was called to pull up by police officer Shen Jinglong at a roadblock that was set up to find traffic violations. 

Out of fear of being punished, Yang drove through a barricade and knocked the policeman down. While other police officers gathered to check Shen’s injuries, he jumped off the vehicle and ran away.

The next day, Shen succumbed to his injuries and died after emergency treatment. After hearing the news Yang fled Shanghai.

He avoided his hometown of Xuyi County in Jiangxu Province, though, instead walking south and finally settling in the coastal city of Longhai in Fujian Province, which is more than 1,000 kilometers away from Shanghai.

On his way to Longhai, he made a living by impersonating a beggar, and he spent 1,200 yuan (US$187) obtaining a new identity under the name of Tang Erbin. He soon found employment under his fake name.

In 2006, he was handed a 10-year jail term for causing another person's death after he took part in a fight. With remission for good behavior, he was released in 2014.

But that case meant police had his information, albeit under an assumed name. Using facial recognition technology, local police found “Tang” was similar in appearance to Yang who was wanted by Shanghai police. After investigation, police confirmed his real identity. He was caught in October 2017 and later escorted back to Shanghai.

On the charge of causing a traffic accident, he was sentenced to six years and 10 months behind bars. He expressed his regret but has not offered compensation to Shen’s family, the court said.


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