Trailer driver that ran over motorcyclist on SLE couldn't react in time to avert fatal accident

Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A trailer that ran over a Malaysian motorcyclist on Seletar Expressway last year was unable to brake in time to avert the fatal accident, a coroner’s inquest into the man’s death heard on Wednesday (23 September).

The 45-year-old driver of the trailer told investigators that he was driving at less than 60kmh just before the accident that killed Heng Lay Peng, who was working as a carpenter.

Tan Hock Choon, a friend of Heng’s family members, was at the hearing to represent them. They were in Malaysia and unable to be attend due to the country’s movement control order amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 16 December last year, Heng had been on his way to work travelling along the Seletar Expressway to the Bukit Timah Expressway when he collided into a car in front of him. The 45-year-old was then flung onto the path of the trailer.

A video of the accident was widely shared online, prompting Heng’s family to plead for people to stop circulating it.

According to the autopsy findings, Heng died from multiple injuries consistent with a motor vehicle collision.

The presence of an antihistamine drug was also found within Heng’s body, which could have possibly caused drowsiness and affected the alertness of a person driving.

An investigating officer gave evidence as to what happened on the day of the accident.

Apart from Heng’s motorcycle, the accident involved two cars and the trailer.

At 8.45am on 16 December last year, the first car was travelling on the rightmost lane of the three-lane road when it slowed down due to the heavy traffic ahead.

A second car behind it, driven by a 30-year-old Singaporean woman, then collided into its rear. The woman told investigators that she was on the way to work in the first lane, travelling between 80kmh and 90kmh when she saw the car in front of her brake abruptly. She did not claim any mechanical faults with her car.

Heng, who was on his motorcycle behind, then collided into the left rear of the second car and was flung into the middle lane, resulting in the trailer’s rear right tyre running over Heng.

The trailer driver, also a Malaysian, told investigators that he was returning to Malaysia after completing a delivery in Singapore. While it was initially on the third or leftmost lane, he had switched to the middle lane as he wanted to overtake a few slow moving buses. He said he intended to switch back to the leftmost lane.

Less than a minute had passed before the trailer driver checked his right wing mirror and saw Heng braking and colliding into a car. He then saw Heng veering into his lane and falling at the front right portion of the trailer, which ran over Heng.

The driver stopped his trailer 1km away and walked back to the scene. He also did not claim any mechanical fault in his vehicle.

Two videos, taken from the front and rear cameras of the first car, as well as another video filmed by a witness’ in-car camera were played in court.

Asked if Tan had any concerns to raise, he said that the investigating officer (IO) had told him a few weeks back that the amount of antihistamine found in Heng’s body was so minute that it should not affect how a person functioned. Tan asked if the part could be removed from the report.

In reply, the IO said that he did mention the amount of the drug to Tan and that a doctor had opined the drug could cause drowsiness.

State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam added that the detail would be included in the findings as well, but that it would not affect Heng’s cause of death.

Tan said that Heng had worked in Singapore for about 20 years and had never committed any offences expect few minor parking offence. He also raised other concerns.

“Firstly as we ascertain cause of death today we hope that all qualifiable facts have been seriously sourced, investigated and presented in court.

“Secondly, the family understands that today is not a fault-finding session. They do however hope that today won’t affect potential liabilities of parties involved in an accident which had caused so much undue mental and emotional stress on them.”

The findings into Heng’s death will be delivered on Thursday.

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