Driver who hit motorcyclist, causing shin to be amputated, jailed

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
Photo from Getty Images

SINGAPORE — When making a discretionary right turn, a motorist failed to spot an oncoming motorcyclist and crashed into him.

As a result, motorcyclist Thomas Lee Chew Siong, 56, sustained an extensive fracture of his shin. His right leg was amputated below the knee nine days after the incident.

Png Cheng Teck, 44, was jailed four weeks on Tuesday (12 November) after he pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous hurt through a negligent act by failing to give way to Lee. He was also disqualified from driving for three years. The ban will take effect when he is released from jail.

Png, an engineering director, had just obtained his driving license two months before the incident, which occurred on 1 April this year.

As Png crossed the signalised cross junction of Pioneer Road North and the Pan Island Expressway towards Changi Airport at about 5.12pm, Lee was driving straight from the opposite direction. Lee had the right of way as the traffic light was green in his favour.

However, Png failed to spot Lee and collided with him.

Png’s in-vehicle camera showed that after three vehicles in front of Png had turned right, he followed suit.

Lee was conveyed to the hospital where he was found to have sustained shin and foot fractures. He underwent four surgeries over the next nine days, ending with an amputation of his right shin below the knee.

At the time of the accident, the weather was fine with moderate traffic and good visibility.

Png was uninjured. While his car had its front right portion crumpled and its right headlamp broken, Lee’s motorcycle had its footrest, left clutch lever and mirror broken.

Lawyers’ arguments

Png’s lawyer Yap Gim Chuan said that in his client’s two police reports, Png had stated that he checked that traffic was clear before turning.

He also said that he might not have seen the motorcycle as it was dark where his car was under the bridge, while the glaring sun reflecting off the rider’s white attire affected visibility.

The lawyer pointed out that the damage sustained to the car was consistent with Png turning before the collision took place, as opposed to him spotting the motorcyclist before turning.

Yap added that his client feels remorseful for Lee’s injuries. Yap asked for a week’s jail and a disqualification of two years for Png.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew said it was the duty of the motorist to keep a lookout and ensure it was safe before doing so. Lee’s injuries are permanent and will affect his livelihood for the rest of his life, pointed out the DPP.

She told the court that there was a high possibility that Lee would take civil action against Png.

The prosecution asked for four weeks’ jail and a three-year ban for Png.

Commenting on the case, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said, “As a driver, it is quite fundamental that we are constantly aware and remind ourselves that traffic junctions are actually dangerous areas of the road where extra precautions need to be taken and extra vigilance needs to be exercised before one executes a turn.”

He added that the onus was on Png to check the coast was clear before turning. Noting Png’s circumstances that prevented him from seeing the motorcyclist, the judge said these “only serve to underscore the importance to take extra precaution”.

Png could have been jailed up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000 for his charge.

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