Several hours after causing an accident that killed eight people and injured eight others, Luong Van Tam, 28, turned himself in at a local police station, said Vu Thanh Chuong, director of the province’s police department.
At the provincial hospital, the driver tested positive for meth, Chuong said. Heroin metabolites can be detected in urine tests one to three days after the last use.
On Monday afternoon, the truck was traveling on National Highway 5 from Hanoi when it hit a group of commune officials who were walking along the road. They were returning to work after burning incense at the local martyrs’ cemetery.
The accident happened in Kim Thanh District in Hai Duong, around two hours to the east of Hanoi.
An eyewitness said the victims "were walking in the motorbike lane on the opposite direction with the truck."
Hua Van Thao, 60, an injured victim and a police officer, said he has worked on many cases of road crashes but had never imagined he would be hit as a pedestrian.
Thao said he and others were walking along the edge of the highway when he saw the truck "flying like an arrow" towards them. The vehicle slightly hit his head and right arm before slamming into many other people behind him.
"It felt like the truck failed to brake. I tried to crawl over other people but two of them had stopped breathing. It was terribly chaotic," he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh has ordered an urgent probe into the accident, with results reported the government before the Lunar New Year Tet holiday.
Drug use is not rare among Vietnamese truck drivers who have heavy work loads, say people familiar with the matter.
An inspection by the transport ministry of 136,000 drivers in 2014 found 526 using drugs.
Road crashes are a leading cause of deaths in Vietnam, killing almost one person every hour. A total of more than 18,720 traffic accidents occurred in 2018, killing 8,244 people and injuring nearly 14,800, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee.
Earlier this month, four people died and 16 others were injured in southern Long An Province after a truck slammed into motorbikes waiting at a traffic light. The 32-year-old truck driver was later found to have been high on liquor and heroin.
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