Driver who collided with father-daughter pair on e-scooter jailed

Wan Ting Koh
The pedestrian crossing at Yio Chu Kang road. (Photo is a screengrab from Google Streetview)
The pedestrian crossing at Yio Chu Kang road. SCREENCAP: Google Street View

SINGAPORE — While executing a right turn, a driver rammed into an e-scooter rider and his young daughter who were crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing.

While the girl remained largely unhurt, her father suffered fractures in his left shin, with a connected open wound.

Neo Hock Bin, the 74-year-old driver, was given five days’ jail on Wednesday (11 December) after he admitted to failing to give way to pedestrians who had the right of way, and hence committing a negligent act which resulted in grievous hurt.

The retired nurse was also banned from driving for 18 months.

At about 9pm on 27 May this year, Neo turned from Gerald Drive into Yio Chu Kang Road when the traffic light showed green in his favour. He failed to give way to pedestrians crossing at a green man.

He then collided with Sharma Sanjeev Kumar, 40, who was riding an e-scooter together with his eight-year-old daughter, who was in front of him.

In-car footage from Neo’s car played in court showed father-and-daughter falling onto the road after the collision, in front of other pedestrians who were crossing the same road on foot.

At the time of the incident, the weather was fine, with a dry road surface and light traffic flow. Visibility was also clear, Deputy Public Prosecutor Jean Goh noted.

Both father and daughter were conveyed to hospitals. Sharma sustained two fractures on his bones within the left shin, with one connected to an open wound. He also had bruises over his chest, buttock and back, and sprained his left ankle.

After surgery, Sharma was discharged on 5 June and given medical leave for 47 days. As of 24 July, he was still experiencing pain in his right leg and buttock after prolonged walking and required a crutch. Doctors were unable to confirm Sharma’s long-term recovery during his latest checkup in October.

Sharma’s daughter had an abrasion on her left shoulder and was discharged on the day of the incident.

‘Momentary lapse of attention’

DPP Goh sought a week’s jail term and an 18-month disqualification for Neo, citing the need for a strong deterrent signal.

Neo’s manner of driving was dangerous and he failed to keep any lookout, said the prosecution. The victims were “plainly obvious” as they were dressed in white and purple, and not difficult to see at night, she said.

Neo’s actions were potentially dangerous to the other pedestrians, she added.

The elderly man’s lawyer Rai Satish, said that his client was not speeding or flouting traffic rules, but a “momentary lapse of attention and heavy foot on the accelerator” had resulted in the accident.

His client, who suffers from a heart condition, did not want to drive anymore.

He had also rendered assistance to the victims immediately and called his two friends, both of whom were doctors, to help with the situation.

The lawyer asked for a heavy fine or a one-day jail term for his client, who was a nurse manager with Singapore General Hospital before he retired.

In passing the sentence, District Judge John Ng said, “It is always difficult to pass sentence for traffic cases, especially negligent cases.”

“All of us drive, minor lapses can result in catastrophic consequences, this is where we are guided by the High Court. Consequences will have a large part to (play) with regard to the sentences to be passed,” he said.

For the charge of causing grievous hurt through a negligent act, Neo could have been jailed up to two years, with a maximum fine of $5,000, or both.

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