SINGAPORE — A lorry driver who had been suspended from driving not only continued to do so, but got into an accident that resulted in his colleague becoming bedridden.
Kervin Ang Chin Wee, 39, hid his driving ban from his employer and continued working as a delivery driver when he sped up to two times more than the speed limit of the lorry he was driving. He crashed the vehicle while his colleague, Kiew Lian Khooi, 23, was seated beside him.
Ang, a Singaporean, was jailed for two years and fined $1,000 on Thursday (14 October). He pleaded guilty to one count each of causing grievous hurt through dangerous driving, of driving while under a ban, and driving without third-party insurance. Ang was also disqualified from driving for eight years.
Ang was employed by ST Seafood as a delivery driver. During his work hours, from 2.45am each morning to about 12pm, he would collect seafood from Jurong Fishery Port and deliver them either to his employer’s factory at Bukit Batok, or to wet markets. Kiew, a Malaysian, was employed by 9S Seafood, which was related to ST Seafood. Kiew would join Ang on the deliveries.
Due to his poor driving record, Ang had accumulated demerit points and was suspended from driving all vehicles for four weeks from 6 October to 2 November last year. He surrendered his license but did not tell his employer about it. His accident occurred a day after his suspension took effect.
Road was wet due to a drizzle
On 7 October last year, at or about 5.20am, Ang had loaded seafood from Jurong Fishery Port onto the lorry, and drove towards a wet market Block 260 Bukit Panjang Road.
Kiew sat beside him on the front passenger seat. Ang drove along the Ayer Rajah Expressway and exited at Clementi Avenue 6 before entering the PIE, towards Changi Airport. He intended to merge onto the Bukit Timah Expressway.
While on the extreme left lane of the four-lane PIE, Ang wanted to switch to the extreme right lane to overtake vehicles. He began speeding on the road, though traffic was light. The road was slightly wet then due to a drizzle.
Even though the lorry had an imposed speed limit of 70kmh under the Road Traffic (Regulation of Speed) Rules, Ang drove at a speed of ranging from 118 kmh to 145 kmh.
Due to the high speed, he lost control of his lorry. As he switched lanes, the lorry skidded to the left before veering towards the right of the extreme right lane of the PIE. It collided into the centre guard rail before toppling sideways.
Ang, who was still conscious, was able to leave the toppled vehicle, but Kiew was unresponsive and bleeding.
Passers-by from other vehicles called for an ambulance and Ang was conveyed conscious to National University Hospital. Kiew was conveyed unconscious.
The accident was captured by an in-car camera of a passing vehicle and was uploaded onto Facebook. As a result of the accident, two lanes of the PIE had to be closed for some time. The lanes were reopened at about 9.15am on 7 October.
Colleague left dependent on family
Ang suffered contusions and a closed traumatic brain injury in addition to facial laceration.
Kiew had multiple lacerations and a traumatic brain injury, a fractured tooth and loose teeth. He remained unconscious after undergoing brain surgery, and was warded in the Intensive Care Unit. His vitals remained poor and he required a tracheostomy.
He was discharged from NUH at the request of his family and medically repatriated by ambulance to a hospital in Ipoh, his hometown, on 11 November last year.
Kiew remained bedridden and unable to speak due to an insertion of a medical implant in his throat as of 21 July. He cannot walk and can only respond by moving his fingers minimally. He is dependent on his family members for basic needs such as feeding.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Dhiraj G Chainani sought a sentence of between two and three years, while Chua's lawyer Justin Phua sought a jail term of one-and-a-half years.
Phua said that injuries could have been averted if Kiew had fastened his seat belt, as Ang had requested.
At the time of the offences, Ang was pressed for time to complete the deliveries due to a hectic schedule, and he had desperately needed the job as he was struggling to support a sickly sibling and ageing parents on a monthly salary of $1,260.
He did tell his company about his suspension due to a "misguided sense of commitment to his work", added the lawyer.
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