3 seniors killed, 2 injured on ill-fated trip to a temple
Three elderly people died and two were injured on an outing to a temple in Namhae, South Gyeongsang, on Tuesday afternoon when their car sailed off a mountain and crashed into a tree.
The five were acquaintances from an elderly community center in Gunsan County in North Jeolla.
According to Namhae Police Station on Wednesday, the car broke through a two-meter-high iron fence around a parking lot near Yongmunsa Temple at 4:04 p.m. Tuesday.
The car flew 20 meters (65 feet) into the air and plunged six meters down the mountain, colliding with a tree.
It was not confirmed whether the driver or passengers were wearing seat belts, the police said.
A police analysis of the black box footage showed that the car went past Yongmunsa Temple, which is at an elevation of 618 meters on Hogusan Mountain, and went 5-meters straight toward a parking lot instead of turning right to Yongmun Bridge, crashing through the fence surrounding the parking lot.
“The video footage ends at the point where the parking lot can be seen about 30 to 40 meters ahead, and there is no record of the moment of the accident perhaps because of the crash,” a police officer said. “The car seems to suddenly accelerate when it was almost at the parking lot, but it is difficult to confirm the exact speed as there is no video footage after that moment.”
Police and fire authorities immediately dispatched nine emergency vehicles and 24 personnel including ambulances, to the scene and moved the five people to hospitals in Namhae County and nearby Jinju City. All in their 70s and 80s, two men and one woman, including the driver, died while two were seriously injured.
“Speed must be slowed down in order to turn right to where the Yongmun Bridge is,” the police officer said, “but according to the black box video footage, the vehicle appears to have accelerated suddenly at the end of the slope and no skid marks have been found on the road.
The National Forensic Service is investigating the exact cause of the accident.
Yongmunsa Temple is one of the most visited temples in Namhae, along with Boriam and Hwabangsa temples. It is a popular autumn destination.
The road to Yongmunsa Temple has an incline of 20 to 30 degrees.
BY WE SUNG-WOOK, SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com[