SINGAPORE — A woman who was driving failed to keep a proper lookout and collided into two domestic helpers and their two dogs while they were walking at the side of the road.
Soh Poh Geok, 71, caused Filipina Janet Quisora Valdez and Lorena Marinas Cortez to be flung onto the grass verge. Both maids suffered fractures while one dog died. The other dog has to undergo hydrotherapy for the rest of its life. The breeds of both dogs were not stated in court documents.
Soh was jailed for five days and disqualified from driving for one-and-a-half years on Friday (2 July) after she pleaded guilty to one count of committing a negligent act, causing grievous hurt to Valdez, with a similar charge concerning Cortez taken into consideration for sentencing.
Her lawyers, Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law, sought a fine of $5,000 – the maximum under her charge – or alternatively, one to two days’ jail, along with a one-year driving ban. The prosecution sought one week’s jail along with a two-year disqualification.
On 14 March 2018, Soh drove along Trevose Crescent towards the direction of Plymouth Avenue in a residential area in Bukit Timah, at about 5.20pm. Hers was the only car on the two-lane road. The weather was fine with clear visibility.
Valdez and her friend Cortez were each walking the dogs named Ruby and Max respectively, along the left side of the road as there was no footpath for pedestrians. Cortez was walking Max about a car length behind Valdez.
While travelling straight, Soh failed to keep a lookout. The front portion of her car collided into both maids and both dogs from behind. The two helpers were flung onto the grass verge.
Soh stopped the car to render assistance. She later admitted that she did not notice anyone on the road before the accident.
Valdez sustained a fracture to her left wrist and right shoulder in addition to forehead bruises and tenderness on her limbs. She underwent two surgeries for her wrist fracture, receiving 286 days of medical leave.
While Valdez has regained a full motion of her left elbow, as at her last visit to an orthopaedic clinic on 10 January 2019, she still had some stiffness in her left elbow, which is likely be permanent, according to the prosecution.
Cortez sustained a haemorrhage at the surface of her brain and pelvic fractures with active bleeding, and two fractures to her spine. She was warded for 22 days and had 61 days of hospitalisation leave.
Ruby underwent surgery for a fracture to her left hip. After the accident, she was no longer active and has to undergo weekly hydrotherapy sessions for her stiffness for the rest of her life. Ruby’s owner spent $11,219.23 on Ruby’s medical expenses.
Max died from the accident. Court documents stated that his owners had purchased him for $7,000.
Soh’s car sustained cracks to its windscreen and dents on its front bonnet, along with scratches on the front bumper.
Soh’s lawyers said that from the traffic police's sketch plans and photographs, it can be inferred that the two domestic helpers appeared to have been jaywalking before the accident and had encroached into Soh’s lane as there was no pedestrian pavement.
“And had the victims not been jaywalking on the very road itself, it would then have been physically impossible for the collision to have occurred on the road itself where it so did specifically. The collision certainly did not occur off-road,” said the lawyers in submissions.
Wong and Tan pointed out that Soh had immediately stopped to help the maids and pleaded guilty to show her remorse.
The lawyers added that civil proceedings pertaining to the victims’ accident claims had proceeded, with the counsel for Soh’s insurer suggesting that the driver would be settling at “up to 85 per cent liability for all the connected claims”.
For causing grievous hurt through a negligent act, Soh could have been jailed up to two years, or fined a maximum $5,000, or both.
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