Bus driver in accident that killed boy, 6, in Choa Chu Kang had view blocked: State Coroner

Wan Ting Koh
The accident along Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5. (PHOTO: Callie Callie / Facebook)

A bus driver who was involved in an accident that killed a six-year-old boy in Choa Chu Kang had his view of the victim blocked by the centre divider railings just before the collision, according to the Coroner’s Court.

Anuar Mahat, who was working with SMRT, was driving a bus along Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5 when it collided into Indian national Arul Dev Ashwin at about 9.05am on 24 May last year.

Arul was conveyed to National University Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10.46am, after he underwent 40 minutes of resuscitation, according to the court’s findings released on Monday (18 February). He died from multiple injuries consistent with a road traffic accident.

Anuar was driving service number 983 on a single lane along a two-way divider road towards Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4 when he felt an impact on the front right portion of the bus.

At the time, Anuar was looking straight ahead and did not look to his right or left. The driver testified that he did not notice Arul before the collision and was only alerted to the boy’s presence when he felt the impact.

When Anuar looked through the windscreen on the right side, he saw Arul falling down.

Realising the collision, Anuar stopped the bus about 1.5 bus lengths away from the point of impact. He then alighted and saw blood on the rear right side of the bus before contacting his control room about the accident.

On the day of the accident, Arul was with his mother, Nagarajan Lakshmi, on his way to attend a class. The mother was holding Arul’s hand while crossing the road when the boy let go of her hand as they approached the centre divider.

Arul was a few steps ahead of his mother when he crossed the centre divider into the path of the bus. After the collision, Lakshmi found her son lying near the right rear tyre of the bus.

Several witnesses saw Arul lying motionless under the bus, and his mother sitting on the centre divider crying.

The accident was partly captured by the in-vehicle camera of the bus. Footage from the camera shows Lakshmi standing along the centre divider while the bus moved ahead before it came to a stop.

A senior forensic scientist from the Health Sciences Authority who conducted a blind spot analysis of the accident found that based on footage of the front-facing camera in the bus, the driver’s view of Arul – who was about 1.18m tall – was most likely blocked by the taller section of the railings.

State Coroner Kamala Ponnapalam said, “Mr Anuar’s view of (Arul) was screened by the centre green railings and he did not observe (Arul) stepping onto the road. Consequently, the front right portion of the bus collided onto (Arul).”

Ruling the accident as an “unfortunate traffic misadventure”, the coroner advised that a child must hold an adult’s hand and always be supervised when crossing the road.

She said, “It is important to bear in mind that children are generally impulsive and known to behave unpredictably… It can be hard for motorists to spot them as well.”

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