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Apgujeong Rolls Royce hit-and-run victim dies after 4 months in coma

Nov. 28, 2023 - 19:09 By Lim Jae-seong
A screenshot from CCTV footage showing the vehicle driven by Shin (circled in red) having hit Bae (on the ground) on Aug. 2 while she was walking on a sidewalk near Apgujeong Station in Seoul. (Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office)

The victim of a high-profile car crash involving a driver suspected of being under the influence of illicitly prescribed drugs has died, after four months in a coma.

The victim, a woman in her 20s identified by the surname of Bae, had been on life support since August, when she was hit by a vehicle driven by the suspect while walking along a sidewalk in Apgujeong, southern Seoul.

The suspect, a 28-year old man identified by the surname of Shin, is believed to have been under the influence of narcotics at the time. As Shin had been driving a Rolls Royce, the case has been called the "Apgujeong Rolls Royce case" in the local media.

According to Bae's lawyer, Bae passed away early Saturday morning, following a drop in her blood pressure and subsequent cardiac arrest.

Bae’s funeral was carried out Monday morning, and the prosecution requested the court to change Shin’s charges from having caused injury via a hit-and-run to having committed murder via a hit-and-run.

Shin’s vehicle ran over Bae on the sidewalk near Apgujeong Station Exit 4 at 8:10 p.m. on Aug. 2. Bae had been on her way home after working a part-time job.

Shin, with records of two drug-related convictions, is believed to have been driving under the influence of Midazolam and Diazepam, benzodiazepines prescribed for sedating patients before an endoscopy or surgery.

He reportedly was given shots of the drugs between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., until about 10 minutes before the accident, at a plastic surgery clinic about 100 meters away from the site of the accident, according to local media reports.

Having gotten rammed between the car fender and the wall, Bae was seriously injured. She sustained fractures across her body, including to both legs, and was critically wounded in the head and stomach, which led to her coma.

CCTV footage of the accident shows that Shin did not take any measures to help the victim for six minutes.

While passersby tried to help her, the footage shows Shin talking on the phone and staggering away from the scene of the accident. Shin later argued that he went to the clinic he had recently left to seek a doctor's help.

The prosecution suspects that Shin had called the clinic to ask how to respond to a possible investigation into prescription drug misuse.

The clinic allegedly attempted to destroy some evidence by erasing that day’s CCTV records inside the clinic and changing the hard drives of its computers.

The police’s response to the incident also triggered public outrage.

Despite Shin having allegedly left the scene of the accident and his suspicious reaction toward the victim, the police released him after 17 hours of detention.

The police then applied for a detention warrant for Shin nine days after the accident, based on the National Forensic Service’s report that he had tested positive for seven kinds of psychotropic drugs. He was detained two days later.

The case is currently at the Seoul Central District Court. Shin reportedly said he did not intend to leave the scene of of the accident at his latest court appearance on Oct. 16.