Para-athlete awarded $1.23m in damages for 2011 AYE accident

Mr Tan Hun Boon went on to become a para-canoeing champion after the accident.
Mr Tan Hun Boon went on to become a para-canoeing champion after the accident.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CANOE FEDERATION

He suffered multiple fractures and had left leg amputated due to 2011 accident on AYE

Local para-canoeing pioneer Tan Hun Boon was awarded $1.23 million in damages by the High Court on Monday for the amputation of his left leg and other consequences that accrued from a 2011 accident on the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE).

Mr Tan, 40, a Public Service Commission Overseas Merit Scholarship holder, was a senior consultant with Accenture Management when the accident occurred on June 23, 2011. He had stopped his car on the AYE road shoulder to help another driver, who had pulled over because of a flat tyre. But as he walked back to his car, a bus owned by Rui Feng Travel barrelled into a parked Expressway Monitoring Advisory System (Emas) truck that had been called for assistance.

The impact caused the Emas truck to collide with the distressed car, which then hit Mr Tan.

He suffered multiple fractures in his left leg and left hip, and required emergency surgery at the National University Hospital, including an amputation above the knee. He consequently developed severe phantom limb pain.

In September 2014, the bus owner accepted 100 per cent of the blame, and High Court hearings before Judicial Commissioner Pang Khang Chau were held last September.

Mr Tan, through lawyers Lim Hui Ying and Mike Chiam, had sought some $2.2 million in all for medical costs, pain and suffering, and loss of earnings, among other things.

Defence lawyers Loh Kia Meng and Kelvin Toh argued that Mr Tan was entitled to just over $500,000 in damages.

One of the issues was over the Ottobock C-leg prosthesis worth some $80,000 that he is fitted with and which is replaced every five years. Each C-leg is equipped with a micro-processor in the knee joint to control the hydraulics and enable more safety and a more natural gait.

The judge rejected defence suggestions that the C-leg be downgraded to a mechanical prosthesis once Mr Tan reaches retirement age, and ruled that there be provision for 4.5 C-legs for Mr Tan's use over the years, amounting to $362,326 .

The judge noted that relying on the prosthesis, Mr Tan now "walks with a noticeable limp". He is not able to run, squat or kneel at all and required high doses of pain medication to make it through the day.

According to the Singapore Canoe Federation website, Mr Tan picked up para-canoeing in 2012 when it was introduced in Singapore, "to improve my fitness and morale after a major accident".

"The sport is full of hidden charms and I began training regularly," he added, hoping then to encourage more people to take it up.

He went on to become a national para-canoeing champion and a national para-cycling champion. He started Coachcraft in 2014 to offer freelance career coaching services.

The bus driver responsible for the accident was convicted after pleading guilty to causing death by a negligent act and jailed for four weeks in 2012, and disqualified from driving for five years. The Emas truck driver, who was knocked down by the bus, died of his injuries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2017, with the headline 'Para-athlete awarded $1.23m in damages'. Print Edition | Subscribe