Construction site supervisor jailed after drunk driver crashes into excavator, dies

·Senior Reporter
·3-min read
An excavator at a construction site. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
An excavator at a construction site. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A 43-year-old site supervisor has been jailed for a week, following a 2017 incident in which a drunk driver crashed into the side of an excavator and died. 

Shortly before Oh Wei Loong, 27, crashed head on into the excavator, Islam Amirul had directed a subordinate to drive it on a public road to a work site. The impact caused Oh’s car to be flung sideways to the left, landing across the centre lanes of the road.

Oh sustained critical injuries and died after being conveyed to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

Excavators are engineering plants defined in the Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Authorisation of Special Types) Notification and are not allowed to operate on public roads unless it is carrying out engineering operations approved by the Land Transport Authority.

If the excavator is moving from one site to another, it should be transported, and cannot be driven from one site to another on public roads.

Islam, a Bangladeshi, was jailed on Tuesday (19 October) after he pleaded guilty to one count of committing a rash act endangering the life of road users. He was a site supervisor employed by Integrate Engineers at the time of the accident.

Facts of the case

In May 2017, Islam had been deployed to an excavation site along Upper Jurong Road towards Boon Lay Way. The excavator was operated by Hossain Abdat, a 47-year-old Bangladeshi, with Karuthapandi Velladurai, a 33-year-old Indian national acting as a traffic controller at the time.

On 23 May at about 8.45pm, Islam instructed Hossain and Karuthapandi to bring the parked excavator to a work site on the extreme right lane. He also instructed Hossain to drive the excavator against the flow of traffic, in order to reach the site near the U-turn point at the extreme right lane.

Hossain retrieved the excavator from the grass verge where it was parked, then started the engine and switched on the lights. Karuthapandi then walked in front of the excavator, holding a traffic signal wand in his left hand and a “Stop” sign in his right hand to indicate that approaching vehicles were to stop.

At about 9pm, Karuthapandi signalled to Hossain that the road was clear by blowing his whistle. Hossain slowly drove the excavator across the four-lane road to the extreme right lane, for some 363m.

Intoxicated driver

At about 9.04pm, Oh drove his Honda Civic at high speed in the second lane from the right. He drove past Karuthapandi before veering towards the extreme right lane. The front right portion of his car collided head on with the front right portion of the excavator.

Oh had a traumatic cardiac arrest following the accident. He also had an abdomen wound with free fluid, sustained multiple fractures in his left arm, a fracture in his right femur and left tibia and a large laceration over his left groin.

Oh died at 9.56pm. Oh’s blood was analysed and found to contain 175 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. This is more than double the prescribed limit of 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood. 

Deputy Public Prosector Cheng Yuxi noted that the excavator was driving slowly and had its lights turned on, but was driving against traffic. The prosecution also took into account Islam's guilty plea and the victim's level of intoxication, in asking for a short custodial sentence. 

Islam's lawyer Jenny Lai also stressed that the victim was intoxicated and could have had impaired judgement as to the position of the excavator. She asked for a fine or a short jail term. 

District Judge Ng Peng Hong said that a fine was not adequate to capture the gravity of harm, which was the loss of life. Even if Islam was not driving the excavator, he was the one who directed subordinate to do so, he added. 

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