8 bad road accidents in Australia and New Zealand involving Singaporeans

An ST illustration showing the site of an accident involving a motorbike.
An ST illustration showing the site of an accident involving a motorbike.

A Singaporean man faces a count of dangerous driving in New Zealand, after a four-car accident that claimed the life of a motorcyclist.

It is not the first time that a Singaporean has been involved in traffic accidents in the region. We look at eight of the worst ones involving Singaporeans that took place in Australia and New Zealand, and what to take note of when driving overseas. 

1. November 2015: Singapore tourist charged with dangerous driving after fatal crash in New Zealand


The aftermath of the car crash involving Singaporean Lew Wei Kiong. PHOTO: @GUNNY_NZ/INSTAGRAM

Lew Wei Kiong, 29, has been charged with dangerous driving over a four-car accident that killed a motorcyclist.

On Nov 29, Lew was driving a rented Toyota and allegedly crossed the double yellow lines on the highway to overtake a group of cars. He crashed into two cars and a motorcycle travelling in the opposite direction.

The passenger in Lew's car had to be cut out and was flown to Dunedin Public Hospital with serious injuries. Five others suffered injuries, while the motorcyclist, 39-year-old Craig Alan Chambers, died at the scene.

The New Zealand police blamed the car crash on driver "inattention".

2. October 2014: SIA pilot involved in crash ordered to pay victims $20,000

 NEW ZEALAND HERALD 
Five SIA crew members were involved in a car crash in New Zealand on the morning of Oct 1, 2014. PHOTO: NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Singapore Airlines first officer Benjamin Wu Yonghao, 32, was ordered in October 2014 to pay NZ$10,000 (S$9,997) each to two colleagues who were seriously injured in a car crash in New Zealand. He was also banned from driving in the country for 18 months.

Wu was driving a rented Toyota car with four colleagues in it when he ran a stop sign at a cross-junction just outside Christchurch, and hit another vehicle - a four-wheel-drive towing a horse trailer.

Wu had managed to slow down to about 40-50kmh when he saw the stop sign at the last minute but could not stop in time. The four-wheel-drive, which was travelling at 80kmh and had the right of way, braked heavily too but was not able to prevent a collision.

His two colleagues, chief steward Chew Weng Wai and stewardess Vanessa Coehlo, were hospitalised - Mr Chew for brain injuries, and Ms Coehlo for fractured bones and injuries to her spleen and bladder. They were both seated in the backseat and not wearing seatbelts. The other two stewardesses were wearing seatbelts and were not injured.

In a statement, Wu took responsibility for the accident and apologised. "I am thankful that everyone involved in this accident is showing signs of improvement and recovery and I just wish we can move on from here so my friends and colleagues can focus on becoming healthy and well again," he said.

3. March 2014: Farm worker killed

After working in Australian tomato farms and vineyards for 10 years, Singaporean Chang Ho Tiong had planned to return home in two years’ time.

But a fatal car accident involving drunk, speeding teenagers on March 8 saw him and his colleague perish on a Melbourne road.

Chang, 52, was driving his colleagues home that night when another car, a Holden Commodore, “lost control and speared into” their four-wheel-drive vehicle on the other side of the road.

The 18-year-old driver of the Commodore and his passenger were camping, and had been drinking for most of the day, the Herald Sun reported.

The two teens had already been caught for speeding earlier that day and their driving licences had been confiscated, Lianhe Wanbao reported. Both died in the crash.

Chang and a Malaysian in the front passenger seat of their vehicle died at the scene, but three others in the backseat survived, two of them suffering serious injuries.

All were fruit pickers and packers.


A picture taken at the wake for Chang Ho Tiong, who died in a fatal car accident involving drunk, speeding teenagers on a Melbourne road. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

4. November 2013: Woman seriously injured in car crash

A car crash in Western Australia left one Singaporean with severe injuries and another under arrest.

The victim, a 35-year-old woman, had been travelling with two other Singaporeans - her husband, also in his 30s and their 20-month old daughter, when the car veered off the Valley of the Giants road in Nornalup, 420km south of Perth, and flipped over.

The driver, understood to be a 51-year-old Chinese-speaking male and a distant relative of the injured woman's family, was charged with dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.

“The car left the road, the driver over-corrected and the car rolled, coming to rest on its roof in the middle of the road,” said Senior Constable Graham Daisley of the Western Australia Police.

The other three in the car were not injured.

Police ruled out alcohol, drugs and vehicle defects as factors that could have led to the crash.

5. September 2013 : Serviceman killed in traffic accident

A Singaporean serviceman was killed in a traffic accident along a highway in Southern Queensland, Australia.

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said Military Expert 3 Ganeson Thevarajah, an Air Force engineer with the Republic of Singapore Air Force, was stationed in Australia at Oakey Training Centre.

When contacted, Queensland Police told Channel NewsAsia that a collision occurred between a truck and a car on Tuesday morning at 7.30am, Singapore time.

ME3 Ganeson is believed to have been the only occupant of the car.

Mindef said he was on his way to work when the accident occurred.

He died at the scene.

6. June 2013: 10-year-old Singaporean girl hit in New Zealand

A 10-year-old Singaporean girl was injured in New Zealand after the car she was travelling in overturned.

The girl was in the Toyota Rav4 with her family when it hit a tree and overturned near Lake Tikitapu in Rotorua on the North Island. Her mother was also injured.

Police told the New Zealand Herald the accident may have been caused by winter conditions, and that speed was not believed to be a factor.

It was believed that black ice was on the road, which made driving hazardous. The family, who was unnamed, was on a two-week holiday.

7. March 2013: Jockey killed in road accident

Local jockey Brethem Tai, 37, was killed in a car accident in New South Wales, Australia. He was driving alone when his car swerved to avoid an object and hit a pole.

Tai had received his licence to ride only about a month before the accident. He had plans to take his wife and son there once he was settled.


Jockey Brethem Tai on his horse. PHOTO: ST FILE

8. June 2012: Killed just days after marriage

A newly married couple died on their honeymoon in New Zealand when their car collided with a camper van on June 15. They were married only eight days before the accident.

Lieutenant Mohamed Najibullah Suhaimi, 26, and Raihana Mohamad Rashid, 25, were killed in the two-vehicle crash in Mangatawhiri, south of Auckland.

Najibullah was behind the wheel when the accident took place on a stretch of road that is known to be dangerous – about 30 people have been killed on that road since 2001.

Najibullah, a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) lieutenant, was a skilled motorcyclist but he rarely drove.


Mohamed Najibullah Suhaimi, a lieutenant in the Singapore Armed Forces and Raihana Mohamad Rashid, a staff nurse at KK Women's and Children Hospital, pictured on their wedding day. The couple were killed when their car collided with a campervan on State Highway 2 in Auckland, New Zealand on June 15, 2012. -- PHOTO: ST ARCHIVES


TIPS ON DRIVING ABROAD

1. When you apply for an international driving licence, read up on the driving laws of the country you are going to and prepare yourself for different terrains.

2. Take along a spare phone, extra batteries or a phone charger in case you are trapped following an accident.

3. Avoid driving during difficult weather conditions as the unfamiliar roads may put you in extra danger.

4. Inform someone at the hotel you are staying in when you will be back if you are leaving for more than a day.

5. Plan your driving routes before you leave, or rent a Global Positioning System device to help you tackle new routes.

6. Contact the nearest Singapore consular authorities as soon as possible after an accident. They will help you overcome language and administrative barriers.

7. Do buy travel insurance as this will help you with medical and other costs in the event of a serious road accident.

Source: The Straits Times archives