Thursday 23 May 2019

Moscow crash driver claims he 'fell asleep at wheel after 20-hour shift'

Chingiz Anarbek Uulu
Chingiz Anarbek Uulu

Angela Charlton

The suspect in a taxi crash near Red Square that injured two Mexican World Cup fans and other pedestrians claims he fell asleep at the wheel after 20 hours on the job.

Moscow police released a video of an interrogation session with a man identified as the Kyrgyz taxi driver, in which he says he briefly dozed off and accidentally hit the accelerator.

The man said he hadn't slept in 20 hours and wasn't drunk, and ran away after the accident because he was afraid that angry bystanders would kill him.

Three people injured in the incident will be released from hospital in the coming days, according to officials.

Videos circulating on Russian social media and some news websites showed the taxi veering sharply onto the pavement and striking pedestrians on Saturday.

The accident took place on Ilinka Street, about 200 metres from Red Square and Moscow's famous GUM shopping arcade, an area popular with tourists.

Viktoria Geranovich, who works nearby and filmed the fleeing driver on her phone, described her shock at the crash.

"I called the ambulance right away," she said. "I was trembling. It is not a thing you see every day, when a taxi drives right into the crowd."

The Mexican Embassy said the two injured female fans met with embassy representatives and were not hospitalised.

Moscow traffic authority said it identified the driver from his licence as Chingiz Anarbek Uulu (28), from the town of Kochkor-Ata in Kyrgyzstan, near the border with Uzbekistan.

Chingiz's brother, Almaz Anarbekov, said Chingiz was an experienced driver and an award-winning kickboxer who had travelled to Moscow eight months ago to earn money.

"He has an unfinished house and he went to make some money and his wife went along to help him," Mr Anarbekov said, at the family home, a one-storey grey house in the village of Muras-Ordo, near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital.

Asked whether Chingiz could have been influenced by extremist ideas, Mr Anarbekov said no.

"God forbid! He is not that kind of person, he has no interest [in radicalism], he just wanted to make some money."

Mr Anarbekov said he had been in touch with his brother's wife, who lives in Moscow, where she works as a cook at an Asian restaurant. They have two daughters.

After the incident, Chingiz's wife spent the night at a police station, said Ulan Koshmatov, a member of the family based in Moscow. It was unclear whether she had been detained or had gone to the station voluntarily.

Irish Independent

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