Ex-Uber driver jailed 4 weeks, disqualified from driving for causing death of his passenger

Wong Casandra
Senior Reporter
(Getty Images file photo)

A former Uber driver was sentenced to four weeks’ jail and disqualified from driving for five years after causing the death of his passenger in an accident last year.

Khalis Muhammad Rizauddin, 23, pleaded guilty on Monday (10 September) to one charge of causing death by negligent act and another for failing to ensure that his passenger wore a seat or lap belt. The latter charge was taken into consideration for the Singaporean’s sentencing.

The court heard that Khalis, then a part-time Uber driver, had picked up 31-year-old Batocabe Jan Wendell Castilla from Changi Business Park at around 7.20am on 9 July last year. The Filipino, who was sitting in the rear seat of the car, was due to alight at a church at Chapel Road.

Prior to picking Castilla up, Khalis had completed 10 trips around Singapore from about 2.30am onwards.

While driving his car along the left lane of the Xilin Avenue slip road onto the East Coast Parkway (ECP), Khalis admitted that he was speeding at “around 60 to 70km/h”, court documents showed.

The speed limit for the particular segment of the road, which has an upslope incline, was 50km/h.

While approaching a left bend along the slip road, Khalis, who claimed he had applied his brakes, lost control of the car and collided with a tree.

Court documents also showed that the force of the impact had caused the wreckage of the car’s entire front, with its front left corner “mangled” and “damaged beyond recognition”.

Various parts of the car’s body were “hanging limply on the ground” and portion of the rear bonnet “ripped off”, they added.

The collision also resulted in the “hacking off of a sizeable chunk of the tree’s stem” with “an entire segment of its bark stripped” away, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jarret Huang.

Castilla sustained multiple injuries, including severe head injuries, and was pronounced dead by the paramedics at the scene.

Court documents did not reveal if Khalis sustained any injuries, but that the front-seat airbags were deployed because of the collision.

“The accused failed to brake sufficiently (so) that any accident could be avoided,” said District Judge Olivia Low.

Court documents showed that there were no inherent mechanical defects found in two separate mechanical inspections conducted on the vehicle. One report concluded that the braking system was likely in serviceable condition as it was intact and undamaged “despite the catastrophic nature of the accident”.

Court documents also indicated that it was drizzling at the time of the accident, with fair visibility and light traffic flow. There were no eye-witnesses or CCTV footage of the accident.

While Khalis was found not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, he had previously admitted to police that he was “feeling tired” prior to the fatal accident.

The night before the accident, he had attended a Hari Raya open house gathering till 8pm. He later returned home and stayed there till about 10pm, where he ferried passengers until around 12am.

He then went to a coffee shop at Tampines to meet a friend and left the place at around 2.30am to continue driving for Uber and did not stop until the accident.

Khalis, who is currently on an internship, is expected to commence his sentence in the first week of December. His bail is set at $10,000.

For causing death by negligent act, Khalis could have been sentenced up to two years’ jail, or a fine, or both.

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