Captain Charged; Teacher's Suicide Note Is Wrenching
'Spread my ashes over the ship sinking site'
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2014 2:41 PM CDT
Lee Joon-seok, center, the captain of the sunken ferry, arrives at a court in Mokpo.   (AP Photo/Yonhap)

(Newser) – The captain of the capsized South Korean ferry is in custody and charged with five offenses that could land him in prison for the rest of his life, reports CNN. The charges against 69-year-old Lee Joon-seok boil down to negligence, both leading up to the accident and after it. "Mr. Lee is charged with causing the Sewol ship to sink by failing to slow down while sailing the narrow route and making the turn excessively," said a prosecutor. "Lee is also charged with failing to do the right thing to guide the passengers to escape and thereby leading to their death or injury." (He didn't mention another prosecutor's earlier claim that Lee wasn't even at the helm when the accident occurred.)

Earlier, a high school vice principal who had been aboard the ferry but got off safely was found hanged in an apparent suicide, and the Wall Street Journal reports that police found a note with the following:

  • "Please hold me responsible for all of this. I pushed for the school excursion. Cremate my body and spread my ashes over the ship sinking site. I may become a teacher again in the afterlife for the students whose bodies have yet to be found."
The Journal also talks to a crew member (not one of those who is being sought by police) who says the crew did everything it could. "We didn't break the rules," he said. "We just couldn't do it. We were unable to approach the cabin where passengers were. The ship was just tilted too much, and so suddenly." The confirmed death toll remains at 28, with more than 270 missing, reports AP.

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Showing 3 of 18 comments
John Gleason
Apr 18, 2014 11:07 PM CDT
I can wait until the final version comes out.
Hey_Dudes
Apr 18, 2014 9:54 PM CDT
Hara-Kiri is no longer in fashion these days so it is back to I am hanging myself in shame. The 69 year old captain of the ship, no doubt, will be hanging himself too one of these days when no prison guards are looking.
Who_Cares
Apr 18, 2014 6:23 PM CDT
The world of cowards. People responsible for leading are running for cover at any sign of problems, while pointing their fingers. In my book when you are a Captain of the Vessel you should make sure that everyone is safe before living. Than again this would take a Man not coward, just like that missing plane. Good thing I don't have to travel to any IndoChina Asian countries this year.