A driver who lost control of his car while making a left turn at 50kmh, causing it to skid and his maid to fly out of the vehicle was sentenced to one week’s jail and disqualified from driving for two years on Friday (20 July).
The accident fractured multiple parts of Credo Crinessa Reyes’ spine and skull. The 27-year-old Filipino maid also sustained lacerations to her face, hearing loss, and visual impairment.
Noel Loh Hwei Ming, 36, a financial consultant and adjunct teacher, was driving his three young children, his wife, and Reyes from East Coast Parkway and turning into the slip road at Bayshore Road when the accident happened. His wife and children remained in the car in the accident.
In sentencing Loh, District Judge Kessler Soh found Loh culpable partly because he had failed to ensure that his maid was belted up.
DJ Loh said, “This was a very unfortunate accident and unfortunate that the domestic helper suffered from such serious injuries.”
He noted that Loh had helped Reyes after the accident but said that a jail term was called for if the harm caused was serious.
“All drivers should comply with traffic rules and keep to the speed limit and ensure that all passengers are belted up. If all this was done, then (Reyes) would not have suffered such serious injury,” said the judge.
Loh had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous hurt to Reyes through a negligent act by failing to keep proper control of his car.
At the time of the accident on the afternoon of 7 February 2016, the road surface was slightly wet due to the rainy weather earlier on.
Loh was driving the car through a slip road from East Coast Parkway into Bayshore Road when he lost control. The car skidded to the right, mounted the curb of the central divider, hit a lamppost and skidded past the road with traffic in the opposite direction before mounting the other side of the road. It eventually came to a halt after hitting the roadside railings.
As the car skidded, Reyes, who sat unbelted in the rear passenger seat, was flung out of the car onto the road. She was later conveyed to Changi General Hospital via ambulance.
In a medical report dated 15 June 2016, Reyes was found to have 11 fractures on her spine and skull, a large laceration, cranial nerve palsy, hearing and visual loss. She underwent surgeries over three days in February and was warded for 52 days.
According to a Health Sciences Authority report, part of the car’s front portion was ripped off, in addition to being scratched and dented. Its front right tyre was also punctured. An inspection of the car did not reveal any mechanical faults and the condition of the car’s tyres was found to be functional.
Loh’s lawyer, Irving Choh, argued for a fine of not more than $5,000 to be imposed on his client, describing the incident as a “freak accident”.
Following the accident, his client went “out of his way” to render assistance to Reyes, added Choh. Loh informed Reyes’ family of the accident and cared for the maid while she was in the hospital and after her discharge.
“As (Reyes) and my client are staunch Roman Catholics, my client had a priest come to the hospital to pray for her, thereby giving (Reyes) an extra layer of emotional comfort,” said the lawyer.
He cited how his client contacted a social worker to implement safety measures at home prior to her discharge in order to assist in her recovery, and hired another maid to care for Reyes after she was discharged.
Loh also engaged a lawyer to make a claim on Reyes’ behalf for the injuries and has also been remitting money to her when she requested for it. To date, Loh has sent Reyes more than $2,080.50.
Choh added that he received a medical report from a specialist on 21 June 2018 stating that Reyes has since recovered to “normal strength”.
“She was able to ‘carry out activities of daily living such as feeding, self care and walking independently without support’…(The specialist) also did not ‘notice any permanent disability orthopaedic wise that may limit (Reyes’) ability to carry out normal activities of daily living’,” said Choh, citing the report.
The prosecution asked for a week’s jail, saying that the injuries were very serious and that Loh had failed to ensure that all the passengers were wearing seatbelts.
Loh is planning to appeal his sentence.