Kopitiam man recalls party hours before SUV plunged off Penang Bridge

Driver MK Vaitheswaran, 21, leaving the Bukit Mertajam court complex today.

BUKIT MERTAJAM: A kopitiam worker today told the trial of a driver who allegedly caused a sports utility vehicle (SUV) to flip into the sea from the Penang Bridge that they were at a bar in George Town celebrating the birthday of a mutual friend prior to the incident.

Prosecution witness Tan Wei Jie, 22, said the driver, MK Vaitheswaran, 21, was also present at the party.

This happened some six hours before the accident on Jan 20, 2019, which caused Moey Yun Peng to die in his SUV, which sank in the North Channel. His body was found dead inside his Mazda CX-5 SUV, at the bottom of the sea.

Tan positively identified Vaitheswaran as driving a black Toyota Vios to the birthday party at a bar on Love Lane, George Town.

He said the driver was a close friend of Moey and was part of the circle of friends that night.

Tan said he only realised Moey had died after police showed him part of Moey’s SUV registration plates bearing the number “1955” and also a mobile phone belonging to the deceased.

The white Mazda being winched out from the sea at the Penang Bridge two days after the accident on Jan 22 last year.

“At that time, our first instinct was to try calling Moey’s handphone. The phone the police showed us rang when we dialled Moey’s number,” he said during questioning by Penang chief prosecutor Yusaini Amer Abdul Karim.

Vaitheswaran’s lawyer K Paramanathan asked Tan if the police had informed him how the phone was obtained. Tan replied he did not.

Penang prosecution chief Yusaini Amer Abdul Karim then asked the court if Vaitheswaran’s appearance in court could be delayed as he had conjunctivitis.

Vaitheswaran, who was wearing a surgical mask, was earlier ordered by the judge to be seated at the far end of the gallery, as opposed to the dock, after the relative accompanying him told the court the accused had sore eyes.

Sessions Court judge Ahzah Fariz Ahmad Khairuddin, presiding as a magistrate, set April 27 to hear Vaitheswaran’s testimony. He said the court will continue hearing evidence from other witnesses tomorrow as scheduled.

A dashcam video from a nearby car showed Vaitheswaran’s Toyota Vios swiping the rear of Moey’s Mazda CX-5 at high speed. This caused the CX-5 to flip thrice across three lanes of the bridge, crash into the parapet before plunging into the sea at 3am on Jan 20, 2019.

A 140-person search and recovery team winched out the white Mazda two days after the incident, on Jan 22, fighting against the choppy seas and unfavourable weather. The car was submerged 15m underwater at Pier 34 of the bridge, leading towards Perai.

Vaitheswaran has pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing death by reckless or dangerous driving under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 on Feb 11, 2019 and is out on RM7,000 bail.

His driving licence has been suspended until the trial ends and he is required to check in at the nearest police station monthly.