Survivor of car crash which killed 3 says driver had been drinking

Mr Jamal Haneef Kader Sultan says he had asked his friend to stop drinking as he was going to drive, but to no avail.
Mr Jamal Haneef Kader Sultan says he had asked his friend to stop drinking as he was going to drive, but to no avail.

The only survivor of a shocking car crash which killed three of his friends told a coroner's inquiry yesterday that the driver had drunk as much as 10 plastic cups of liquor before the accident.

It was also revealed that the two back-seat passengers were not wearing seat belts when they were flung out of the broken rear windscreen of the car.

Mr Jamal Haneef Kader Sultan, 23, maintained a calm demeanour as he testified to the events which led to the tragedy in the early hours of March 2.

That was the day technician Shankar Tharumalingam, 22, and student Harendran Banjatjaram, 23, died after the Honda Civic they were in crashed along Yio Chu Kang Road.

The driver, 24-year-old student Rammohan Subash Nair, died the next day at Tan Tock Seng Hospital without recovering consciousness.

Mr Jamal said that when he joined his friends at a void deck of a block in Serangoon North Avenue 4 at about 11.30pm the night before, they had already been drinking.

They then bought more alcohol from Sengkang and returned to the block to drink.

Mr Jamal told the court that he asked his "good friend" Rammohan to stop drinking as he was going to drive. But he would not listen.

Later, when he asked Mr Rammohan if he was able to drive, he replied that he felt "okay".

But once behind the wheel, Mr Rammohan's driving was "not normal", said Mr Jamal, as he nearly hit a kerb while leaving a carpark at Serangoon North Avenue 4.

"Maybe he was high on liquor," said the survivor, who works at the logistics department in Changi Airport.

When Mr Jamal, who was belted up in the front passenger seat, saw that the car was about to crash, he ducked and covered his head as the airbag inflated.

The court, along with the parents of the dead who were present, also heard that the car - which was speeding at over 95kmh - had tyres which were partially punctured.

A nail was found embedded in each of the left front and right rear tyres.

The investigation officer of the case, Senior Staff Sergeant Jimmy Chan, said Mr Rammohan lost control of his vehicle, which mounted a kerb on a downwards-sloping left bend just after Jalan Kelulut.

The car flipped in mid-air and hit a pedestrian crossing sign, a concrete structure, a lamp post and then a tree.

Both Mr Shankar and Mr Harendran died from multiple injuries. Mr Rammohan, who had to be extricated from the wreck, was arrested for suspected drink driving.

He died at 1.08am on March 3.

State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid will give his findings on Sept 18.

elena@sph.com.sg