Botanic Gardens crash site still cordoned off

A 40m tembusu heritage tree fell on Feb 11, killing one person and injuring four others. But this has not deterred visits to the gardens.
A 40m tembusu heritage tree fell on Feb 11, killing one person and injuring four others. But this has not deterred visits to the gardens.ST PHOTO: SEOW BEI YI

About a week after a 40m tembusu heritage tree killed a woman and injured four other people, the site of the incident in the Singapore Botanic Gardens remains cordoned off to the public.

The crash took place at least 50m away from the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, but the surrounding area remained popular with visitors when The Sunday Times visited yesterday.

Said a 40-year-old mother of two, who wanted to be known only as Abby: "The incident came as a surprise to us, but we still visit - it's a good place for the children to play."

But the consulting firm director, who visits the gardens weekly, added: "We try to stay away from big trees now."

Tattoo artist Michael Vestil, 38, said that such accidents are beyond human control and do not deter him from visiting the gardens to relax with his family.

Indian national Radhika Angara, 38, who was pinned under the tree, died in the incident.

Her husband, Mr Jerome Rouch- Sirech, 39, and their one-year-old twin children were also injured.

They were having a picnic just 5m away from Singaporean Tay Pei Lei, 26, who dislocated her shoulder.

Ms Tay was treated at the National University Hospital after the crash and discharged later in the day.

However, she has to go for physiotherapy and magnetic resonance imaging soon.

While she is considering submitting her medical bills to the National Parks Board (NParks) for reimbursement, she worries that the claim might not be successful.

Mr Patrick Yeo, a partner at Withers KhattarWong law firm, said that past cases suggest it may be difficult to make a successful claim for damage caused by a fallen tree.

Usually, NParks will investigate to find out if there were any problems with the tree and who should be held responsible for the incident, he added.

But one argument which may be raised is that it was an "act of God" and there was no negligence involved.

"But that doesn't stop NParks from offering some form of compensation to the family, out of goodwill," Mr Yeo said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 19, 2017, with the headline 'Botanic Gardens crash site still cordoned off'. Print Edition | Subscribe