A taxi driver admitted to being responsible for the death of a 19-year old National University of Singapore (NUS) female undergraduate, and causing grievous hurt to the surviving three passengers in a car accident at Clementi Road on April 19 last year.
According to court documents, Yap Kok Hua, 55, was ferrying Ong and her schoolmates from Clementi Mall to their residential campus, Tembusu College, in his taxi when tragedy struck.
Around 7:30pm, the Premier Taxi driver made a discretionary right turn at a signalised Clementi Road junction despite being well aware that another car was hurtling towards him from the opposite direction. The younger motorist, Ng Li Ning, 21, who was speeding between 92kmh to 97kmh, could not avoid the taxi and both vehicles collided.
The impact of the collision caused Ong, who was thrown partially out of the window, her life.
Her schoolmates, Zon Lim, suffered from multiple facial lacerations, bruises and glass in his wounds, while Lim Jin Jie received bruises and a fracture to his spine. Ting had a traumatic brain injury, and became vegetative initially but his condition has since improved. He suffered multiple injuries to his ribs, lung, left kidney and pelvic bone, and was dependent on a ventilator. He is still undergoing rehabilitation.
On July 17, the accused pleaded guilty to one charge of causing the death of Kathy Ong Kai Ting by a negligent act, as well as one charge of causing grievous hurt to Lim Jin Jie, Ting Jun Heng and Zon Lim who were all 22 years old at the time.
Invictus Law Corporation’s defence lawyers, Josephus Tan and Cory Wong, who represented Yap, argued for a maximum of six weeks’ imprisonment and suspending his driving license for the next five years as a consequence of his negligence.
Although Yap holds a bad driving record and has repeatedly committing traffic offences over the past two decades, the defence rebuttal that this was not a case of beating the red lights, and that his last conviction for reckless driving was almost eight years ago.
In addition, they cited a Health Sciences Authority report that stated the collision could have been avoided had Li drove at 70kmh-limit instead.
The subsequent charges of causing hurt to the driver he collided with, and failure to ensure his rear seat passengers had their seatbelts fastened, will be taken into consideration for sentencing on August 2.
Image Source: The Straits Times