The driver in a viral Internet video showing a taxi deliberately crashing into a bag snatcher escaping on a motorbike has been identified as a 50-year-old man who has done good deeds more than once.
A surveillance camera captured the whole incident from start to finish on Hoang Van Thu Street in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City in a 30-second video that caused a stir on social media earlier this week.
According to the footage seen by Tuoi Tre News, a woman was walking on the sidewalk when a man approached her on a motorbike, snatching her handbag and fleeing immediately.
A scene from the opposite angle then shows a Mai Linh taxi suddenly swerving to the right side of the road before crashing directly into the bag snatcher, cornering him to the wall of a house.
The robber luckily cheated death and was seen quickly standing up from the crash and absconding on foot.
The driver was 50-year-old Nguyen Van Hoang, according to Thanh Nien newspaper.
Hoang confirmed to the Ho Chi Minh City-based daily that the incident took place near the Bui Thi Xuan-Hoang Van Thu intersection on April 20.
He had just reached Hoang Van Thu when he saw a man speeding on a motorbike, holding a handbag in his left hand while a woman was chasing behind.
“At that very moment I knew this was a robbery and told myself that I had to stop this by all means,” he told Thanh Nien.
What happened next was clearly shown in the viral footage.
After giving the snatched handbag back to the victim, Hoang reported the incident to local police.
The woman was en route to the airport to fly back to her hometown of Da Nang, with an iPhone 7, two passports, two air tickets and other important papers in her bag, according to the taxi driver.
“The woman immediately returned to her hotel in shock following the incident,” Hoang recalled.
“She then came back to thank me and gave me VND200,000 [US$9] before boarding her flight to Da Nang.
“Upon arriving home, she called me again and offered to help me pay the cost for repairing my cab, but I told her the company had covered it.”
Hoang had earlier returned mobile phones left in his cab to passengers, according to Thanh Nien.
While the controlled crash helped stop a robbery, it has sparked an online debate over whether the cabbie should have done so, as he might have had to be held accountable in accordance with the law if the bag snatcher had been severely injured or even killed in the crash.
Many people were concerned that the robber would return to exact revenge on the driver.
He knows what to do and is willing to accept all consequences that may follow his action, Hoang said.
“Do not do what you are afraid to, but once you have already done it, do not be afraid,” he said.
Hoang also said he did not think of any legal problems he might have to deal with when he decided to turn his car toward the robber.
“I was thinking I was doing the right thing so there was nothing to fear,” he said.
The taxi driver asserted that if he was in a similar situation in the future, he would do just the same, “as long as conditions permit.”
“I would of course not have another controlled crash if there are kids playing on the sidewalk then,” he explained.
The victim, 53-year-old Bui Thi Loc, told Thanh Nien from Da Nang that she really appreciated Hoang’s bravery. “I was so lucky to have his help,” she said.
But what makes Hoang feel the happiest after the incident is that his little daughter, after watching the video, has called him “[her] hero.”
“I am so proud that my child feels proud of what I did,” he said.