Sembawang resident Aw Kian Chow was walking home one rainy evening in 2008 when he slipped and fell at a sheltered walkway that he frequently used.
The then freelance accountant injured his spinal cord, and became paralysed.
Yesterday, the 55-year-old arrived at the High Court on a trolley bed to testify in a negligence suit he has brought against the Sembawang Town Council to seek compensation.
Mr Aw, represented by Mr N. Srinivasan, is seeking unspecified damages for the injuries he suffered, pain and suffering, loss of earnings and medical expenses.
He alleges that the town council had failed to properly maintain the walkway to ensure that it was safe for residents.
He is now a tetraplegic, and unable to feel anything from the neck down. Confined to a bed, he requires ventilator support, artificial life support and two caregivers to attend to him.
Yesterday, hooked up to machines to monitor his vital signs and help him breathe, he laboured to speak while his wife Angeline Zeng, 43, stood next to the bed.
At one point, one of the machines started beeping when he became breathless.
Madam Zeng asked the court for a few minutes to help him, but he told her: “I’m okay, I can take it.”
Yesterday, Mr Aw testified that it was raining heavily on the evening of Aug 26, 2008 and that water was “overflowing” on the walkway between Block 415, Block 415A and Block 419 in Sembawang Drive.
He had held onto the handrails as he walked, but slipped and fell.
He added that whenever it rained, water would overflow “like a river”. He said he had almost slipped and fallen several times previously, and had seen other residents almost losing their balance.
Asked to describe what he meant by “overflowing”, he said the water was flowing on the walkway “as if it’s like a drain”.
The town council, represented by Mr P.E. Ashokan, contends that the walkway was properly maintained. It said that the contractor it had hired to carry out repair and redecoration works in the estate had used a material that complied with industry standards to ensure safety.
Yesterday afternoon, Justice Choo Han Teck, together with the lawyers from both sides, visited the site to take a look at the walkway.
The trial, scheduled for five days of hearing, continues today.