JOHOR BARU • Eight teenagers were killed and another eight injured when a car hit them while they were riding their bicycles on a public road in Johor Baru early yesterday.
District police chief Sulaiman Salleh said that six of the dead were killed on the spot, while two others died on their way to Johor Baru's main hospital.
The 16 boys involved were aged between 13 and 17. The accident took place at around 3.30am, in Jalan Lingkaran Dalam.
According to the 22-year-old female driver, the teenagers were in the middle of the road, which was dark, Assistant Commissioner Sulaiman said.
A news report said that the police believed the driver had been neither drunk nor speeding, but had detained her for investigations nonetheless. The teenagers were reported to have been members of a "joyriding" club, with two of the injured in critical condition.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor met victims' families at the Hospital Sultanah Aminah mortuary yesterday.
He spoke tearfully to relatives, urging them to monitor their children's whereabouts and not allow them to roam the streets, especially at night.
"Don't let it come to a situation where we cry for our children, instead of the other way around," he said. "I myself have lost a son who will not return. I understand your feelings."
The Sultan's son, Prince Tunku Abdul Jalil Sultan Ibrahim, died in December 2015 at the age of 25. The fourth of six children, he had been battling liver cancer.
In response to the fatal cycling accident, the Johor Education Department has said that it will gather more information about cycling groups from the survivors.
Director Saharudin Sharif said that the department is aware of the existence of such groups but did not have any information on their numbers or the reasons students joined them.
"We want to reach out to these students and advise them to give up the habit of joyriding at night," he told reporters outside the mortuary. "They normally travel in groups of 10 or more."
The names of the dead were released yesterday. They were between 13 and 16 years old and attended six different schools in Johor.
Mohd Khairul Nizam Amir, 25, whose younger brother, Mohd Azhar, 16, was among the dead, said his younger sibling liked to go cycling in the wee hours.
"As a big brother, I had advised him before not to go out at night with his bicycle. I was tired of advising him all the time," he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times newspaper. "He goes out when people go to sleep."
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, BERNAMA