Lorry knocked over in freak accident after piling machine on trailer gets snagged in tree branches

Mr Chan Chong Jin, 48, describing how the piling machine got caught in the branches of the raintree canopy on Tampines Road, which caused an accident that left a lorry tipped on its side.
Mr Chan Chong Jin, 48, describing how the piling machine got caught in the branches of the raintree canopy on Tampines Road, which caused an accident that left a lorry tipped on its side. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Trapped driver was 'bleeding from his head'

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - It was a route the trailer truck driver had taken many times before while transporting heavy machinery.

But something went terribly wrong on Wednesday as driver Chan Chong Jin was driving on Tampines Road at about 4.20pm.

He was heading to a warehouse at Old Tampines Road to deposit a piling machine he had on the back of his flatbed trailer.

"As I saw some roadworks on one side of the road, I veered slightly to the left so cars would be able to pass me since the two-lane road became narrower," the 48-year-old said in Mandarin.

But just after he cleared the obstacle near Paya Lebar Airbase, he heard a loud crashing sound coming from outside his cabin and decided to slow to a halt.

Mr Chan could hear tree branches breaking and thought the piling machine might have caught some of the overhanging branches from the raintree canopy lining the road.

He was shocked when he left the trailer cabin.

"I saw tree branches all over with a lorry tipped over on its side. It frightened me," said Mr Chan, his voice trembling as he recounted the incident.

As he had feared, the piling machine had snagged on tree branches, which swung onto the opposite side of the road and caused an accident, leaving a lorry tipped on its side.

In 20 years of driving, I've never been in an accident like this. I've used this road many times and the trees were always high enough.

DRIVER CHAN CHONG JIN

A man in his 60s climbed out through the broken windscreen and called out to Mr Chan but his colleague, the driver, was trapped in his seat.

The 29-year-old driver kept calling out for help and was bleeding from his head, Mr Chan said.

Mr Chan called the police before trying to help the driver.

A cabby and his two passengers also tried to pull the driver from the vehicle but his leg was firmly lodged, Mr Chan said.

Emergency responders arrived within minutes and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) rescuers took about half an hour to free the driver from the vehicle, he said.

The driver and passenger, who had complained of pain in his ribs, were taken away in ambulances.

An SCDF spokesman said that two fire engines, two ambulances and three support vehicles were sent to the scene.

Freed

Rescuers freed the driver from the lorry's cabin using hydraulic tools to cut through the metal.

Both driver and passenger were taken to Changi General Hospital conscious and in a stable condition.

When The New Paper arrived at the scene at about 5.45pm, the driver had been rescued and about a dozen workers were using chain saws to cut the branches into smaller pieces so they could be removed.

A 500m stretch of Tampines Road, which had one lane on each side, had been closed off while police officers were seen rerouting traffic.

By the road, one raintree had all its branches ripped off, leaving only part of the trunk, while two others were missing large branches.

Mr Chan said he believed that the extendable arm of the piling machine had snagged on a tree when he veered to the left, and the force caused the machine to swing right, in the direction of oncoming traffic.

"In 20 years of driving, I've never been in an accident like this. I've used this road many times and the trees were always high enough," he said.

Asked if he was worried about still having a job, Mr Chan choked up a second time.

"I'm just hoping the two men aren't badly hurt. I don't want to think about anything else," he said.

A police spokesman said investigations are under way.

He added that the road was re­opened at about 9pm on Wednesday.