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Unlicensed drunk driver kills mom, disables cabbie

Xia Wei, an alleged repeat drunken driver, faces years in jail after police detained him for crashing into a taxi head-on in Hongkou District in February, killing the female passenger and leaving the driver permanently disabled.

Prosecutors have recently ratified his arrest and would soon launch procedure to charge him for drunken and unlicensed driving, crimes punishable by years in jail, traffic police said yesterday.

The 39-year-old passenger, Yan Yunchun, had a 14-year-old son and was engaged to be married again later this year.

"She had gradually stepped out of the shadow from her last marriage and we were planning to have a future together. The crash took everything away," Yan's fiance reportedly told police.

She died in hospital after being pulled from the wreckage of the taxi. Police said Yan, who was seated next to the driver, sustained a fatal spinal injury after being flung into the windshield.

"Like a cracked whip, her spine couldn't sustain the heavy force from the sudden movement and snapped," said traffic police investigator Lu Junhua. The injury stopped her from breathing and she suffocated to death.

The middle-aged taxi driver, Wang Jianguo, was left in a critical condition after sustaining 11 broken ribs, fractured knees and a bleeding lung.

Bed-ridden since the accident and recovering slowly from his injuries, Wang said the mounting medical bills and lack of income is sending his family to the brink of bankruptcy.

Late on February 26, Xia's sedan swayed into oncoming traffic near the top of the Jiangyang Road S. overpass, giving Wang little time to avoid the car, police said. Wang could not veer into the adjoining lane because there was a car traveling alongside him and he hit Xia's car head-on.

Xia's blood alcohol level was high enough to have him charged with high-level drunken driving. Police said Xia's licence had already been suspended for low-level drunken driving in the same district about five weeks earlier.

Police estimate Xia will have to pay at least 1 million yuan (US$146,338) to compensate the taxi driver and the woman's family and his car insurance will cover only 120,000 yuan.

Xia said his family is considering selling their apartment and the car to raise money to pay the compensation.


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