SINGAPORE — He had just got back into the driver’s seat of his car and wanted to reverse it into a parking lot when his wife of over 30 years alighted from the front passenger seat, a court heard.
A chain of unfortunate events then resulted in retiree Quek Chin Ling, 69, fatally running over his wife Ng Siew Fong, 64, at a car park in Ang Mo Kio in April 2017.
At the State Courts of Monday (27 May), Quek was fined $7,000 and banned from driving for five years.
He pleaded guilty to one charge of causing death by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide.
Got lost while driving
At about 7pm on Tuesday, 25 April 2017, Quek and Ng left home for Blk 332 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1. Ng wanted to meet her sister and some mutual friends to discuss their upcoming trip to China at a flat there.
The couple reportedly spent most of their time together and would have dinner together after Ng finished work. She was a senior deputy director at the manpower ministry’s foreign manpower management division. They have two sons.
Ng initially drove the car while Quek sat in the front passenger seat. But the couple were unable to find the correct location and got lost in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6.
Quek saw van driver Chin Chiap Shing, 56, and asked for directions. Chin in turn asked Quek to follow behind his vehicle.
Quek and his wife then changed seats as Quek was concerned that he would lose sight of the van, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Asoka Markandu told the court.
At the open space car park of Block 332 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, Chin reversed park into a lot. Quek stopped along the driveway near the van and got out to thank him for showing the way. The retiree passed the van driver a $10 note.
Stepped on wrong pedal
Quek then got back into the driver’s seat of his car. At the same time, Ng alighted.
While the front passenger door was still open, the car reversed. The door hit Ng, causing her to fall to the ground.
When Quek heard his wife scream, he wanted to step on the brake pedal but accidentally stepped on the accelerator pedal instead. The car’s front left tyre ran over Ng.
The vehicle then swerved to the right while reversing and crashed into two motorcycles before hitting a pillar at Block 332 and coming to a stop.
Eyewitnesses reportedly saw Quek at a loss and blaming himself at the accident scene.
Ng died from head injuries in hospital about three hours later.
Accident took toll on accused
DPP Asoka asked for a $10,000 fine and a five-year driving ban in line with previous traffic accident cases involving family members.
He said the prosecution had taken into account Quek’s deep remorse and that he has no prior criminal record, among other things.
But the accident involved a high degree of negligence, including failure to ensure that Ng had properly alighted from the vehicle before moving off, said the DPP.
Quek was previously fined for inconsiderate driving in 1997, 2002, 2009 and 2012. He was fined for speeding in 1992. And he was also fined for failing to obeying red traffic light signals in 2010 and 2012.
Defence lawyer Diana Ngiam asked for a fine amount of less than $8,000.
“For the fatal mistake that he made, he is still suffering,” she said, adding that Quek is getting treatment for depression from the Institute of Mental Health.
After the accident, Quek’s son suffered a stroke in the United States. Quek’s mother also had a stroke in November 2017 and she remains bedridden and has to be tube fed.
“I urge your Honour to be so merciful,” the lawyer told District Judge Ng Peng Hong.
In meting out the sentence, Judge Ng told Quek, “It is indeed unfortunate that this accident took place. I have no doubt that it must have taken a toll on you.”
The maximum penalty for causing death by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide is up to two years’ jail, along with a fine.
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