Hong Kong Chef Tragedy Prompts Road Safety Concerns

Two chefs of the Michelin-starred Fat Duck restaurant in England are killed in a Hong Kong car crash.

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Two chefs of the renowned Fat Duck restaurant in England died in a car crash in Hong Kong on Nov. 19, 2012.

Calls have been made in Hong Kong for tougher safety measures after a traffic accident killed two visiting chefs from Fat Duck, celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant in England. Carl Magnus Lindgren, 30, of Sweden and Ivan Aranto Herrera Jorge, 34, of the U.K. died Monday when the taxi they were traveling in was crushed between two double-decker buses in Shau Kei Wan, a district in eastern Hong Kong island. The Daily Mail quoted an unnamed source close to the Mandarin Oriental hotel, where the chefs were staying, as saying that it was “pure chance” that Blumenthal was not involved in the accident. “His two chefs got into one cab and he got into another soon after.”

Lindgren and Jorge, along with 53-year-old taxi driver Wong Kim-chung, were declared dead at hospital. Lau Chit, the 57-year-old driver of one of the buses involved in the accident, has been arrested by police and released on bail. Video footage shows him passing out at the wheel for several seconds before the crash.

Chai Wan Road, where the accident took place, has been a notorious traffic blackspot for decades. In 1982, four people were killed and 13 injured when a cement mixer careered into the pavement. In 1992, 31 people were hurt, and the driver killed, when a bus crashed into a pedestrian overpass.

Monday’s tragedy was also not the first this year in which a driver lost consciousness or felt unwell at the wheel of a bus. On June 3, a 56-year-driver said he felt dizzy before his bus careered into a crowd of people at a bus stop, killing one and injuring five. On August 27, a double-decker bus smashed into a suburban shop front, injuring five, one of them seriously. The driver had blacked out moments before the accident took place. The Standard newspaper called for a commission of inquiry to “review the accidents collectively.” The South China Morning Post also demanded “tougher fitness tests” for older drivers.

William Chung, operations director for the New World First Bus company, said that the driver involved in the crash had been in good health. The company currently subjects drivers over 60 to annual cardiovascular checks, but said it would consider extending them to younger drivers in light of the accident.

Meanwhile, Blumenthal was seen at a local mortuary on Tuesday, identifying the bodies of Lindgren and Jorge. According to the Daily Mail, they were visiting Hong Kong with Blumenthal and Fat Duck’s head chef Jonny Lake on a promotional tour. A Fat Duck spokesperson described Lindgren and Jorge as “two uniquely talented young chefs that were loved by everyone who worked with them.”

Two days before the accident, Lake tweeted a photo of the two preparing a special meal with another chef at the Mandarin Oriental.

Heston Blumenthal, a pioneer of molecular gastronomy and host of the BBC television series Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection, launched Fat Duck in 1995 in Berkshire, England; it was voted the best restaurant in the world in 2005. He was supposed to attend the Margaret River Gourmet Escape event in Western Australia this weekend for a dinner named in his honor but has since canceled.