Cabby jailed 3 weeks and slapped with 4-year driving ban for causing pedestrian's death

Ong Chin Hong was jailed for three weeks and banned from driving for four years for causing the death of an elderly pedestrian.
Ong Chin Hong was jailed for three weeks and banned from driving for four years for causing the death of an elderly pedestrian. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A taxi driver who failed to see an elderly pedestrian crossing the road one evening was jailed for three weeks and banned from driving for four years on Tuesday (Feb 16) for causing her death.

Ong Chin Hong, 69, pleaded guilty to failing to keep a proper lookout along Ulu Pandan Road and hitting kitchen helper Goh Yah Liu, also 69, at the signalised pedestrian crossing of the junction of Pandan Valley on Dec 17, 2014.

Madam Goh, who worked at a nearby school , was on her way home to Toa Payoh at about 5.10pm that day when the accident happened.

A court heard that Ong was driving along the five-lane Ulu Pandan Road towards Clementi when his taxi hit Madam Goh.

Investigation showed that, just before the collision, a 25-year-old woman waiting for a bus had seen the taxi about 1m to 2m away from the pedestrian crossing, and Madam Goh limping quickly towards the centre divider. Madam Goh was two to three steps away from it before she was hit.

She was also carrying an umbrella as it was drizzling then. The impact flung her about 5m away. She died about an hour later in hospital from multiple injuries.

Seeking a sentence of about four weeks' jail and a three to five-year disqualification from driving, Deputy Public Prosecutor Carene Poh said Ong's degree of negligence was high.

She said Madam Goh had cleared more than half of the pedestrian crossing at a relatively slow pace when she was hit.

It was only after the collision that Ong applied his brakes, as he had completely failed to spot her before that.

The location of the accident was one where a reasonable volume of pedestrian traffic would be expected, she added.

Despite knowing this, Ong, who has been a cab driver for the past 18 years, had failed to keep a proper lookout for pedestrians and slow down when nearing the crossing.

Pleading for a fine, Ong's lawyer Chiu Chuang Khet said in mitigation that his client had an exemplary driving record for 47 years. He said the father of two was driving at a low speed of 40kmh and there was a momentary lapse of judgment.

District Judge Eddy Tham said Ong had a clear view of the road in front, and the fact that he was unable to spot the pedestrian until the collision had taken place showed a significant degree of negligence.

Ong could have been jailed for up to two years and fined for causing death by doing a negligent act.