Cabby jailed 2 weeks for crashing into elderly woman, causing coma

Wan Ting Koh
PHOTO: Getty Images
PHOTO: Getty Images

SINGAPORE — A taxi driver failed to see a woman crossing the road and barrelled into her after executing a right turn. Since the accident, the 61-year-old woman has fallen into a coma and has remained so for more than a year.

Kan Chee Chew, a cabby of more than 15 years with ComfortDelGro, was jailed for two weeks and disqualified from driving for five years on Thursday (12 December). The 56-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of committing a negligent act and causing grievous injury to pedestrian Pakrisamy Kamala, a Singaporean.

On 3 July last year, Kan began his shift at 4.45pm. Some two hours later, he travelled along Syed Alwi Road towards Jalan Besar. At the T-junction at the end of Syed Alwi Road, Kan failed to stop at the stop line, and instead only slowed down while turning right.

As he turned into Jalan Besar towards Bencoolen Street, he failed to keep a proper lookout for Pakrisamy, and crashed into the elderly woman, who was flung about two metres away.

Unconscious and lying in pool of blood

Kan alighted from his taxi and assisted Pakrisamy, who was unconscious and lying in a pool of blood when paramedics arrived on the scene. She was later conveyed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where she was found to have a fracture in her skull and face, a break in her spine, and a clavicular fracture. She also suffered from a large area of bleeding outside her brain.

At the time of collision, the weather and visibility were clear, road surface was dry, and traffic flow was moderate.

Due to her traumatic brain injury, Pakrisamy underwent surgery before being placed in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). While in ICU, Pakrisamy experienced a bout of tracheobronchitis – inflammation of the windpipe and respiratory system – and underwent tracheostomy.

She was discharged from ICU to the general ward on 15 July and was later moved to a nursing home on 22 November.

Slim chance of recovery from coma

In a medical report dated 18 December, a doctor stated that the elderly woman’s chance of recovery was slim and that she was likely to remain comatose or minimally conscious. She has been in a coma for a year, five months and nine days since the accident.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Bjorn Tan submitted for a two-week jail term and a driving ban of five years, noting that the driver had multiple road traffic breaches in the past, including speeding (thrice), driving on a bus lane during peak hours, failing to give signal and parking where he should not have.

Kan’s lawyer Daniel Poon said that Kan was the sole breadwinner supporting two children, aged 18 and 20, both of whom were still studying. His wife worked part time and was effectively a homemaker. Kan’s 90-year-old mother also depended on him, the lawyer added.

The accident was unfortunate as the cabby had not expected anyone to be jaywalking, said Poon. He characterised the incident that was a “moment of carelessness” which Kan was “most remorseful” for.

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