Cabby admits to negligent driving and causing NUS student's death

In the accident last year, Yap Kok Hua made a right turn at a signalised Clementi Road junction despite knowing that a car was coming towards him at high speed. The car ploughed into the cab, and the accident caused the death of one of Yap's four pas
In the accident last year, Yap Kok Hua made a right turn at a signalised Clementi Road junction despite knowing that a car was coming towards him at high speed. The car ploughed into the cab, and the accident caused the death of one of Yap's four passengers, Ms Kathy Ong Kai Ting, 19. The other three were seriously injured. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A taxi driver made a discretionary right turn at a signalised Clementi Road junction despite knowing that a car was hurtling towards him from the opposite direction. The consequences were fatal.

The car driven by Mr Ng Li Ning, 21, ploughed into Yap Kok Hua's taxi, and the accident caused the death of one of the cabby's passengers, National University of Singapore (NUS) student Kathy Ong Kai Ting, 19.

The three other passengers in the taxi - Mr Zon Lim Thou Jung, Mr Lim Jin Jie and Mr Ting Jun Heng, all 22 years old then - suffered serious injuries, including those affecting the brain.

Prior to the accident, Yap failed to ensure that his three rear passengers were belted up.

Yap, 55, who no longer drives a taxi, pleaded guilty in court yesterday to negligent driving and causing Ms Ong's death, as well as negligent driving and causing grievous hurt to the men.

The court heard that Yap's four passengers boarded the taxi at Clementi Mall in Commonwealth Avenue West at around 7.30pm on April 19 last year.

He was told to take them to Tembusu College in NUS. Yap drove towards the signalised cross junction of Commonwealth Avenue West by Clementi Road and stopped when the lights turned red.

 
 
 
 

When the lights turned green, he moved forward into the right turn pocket. He then stopped and checked for vehicles coming from the opposite direction. The court heard that he did so before the green right-turn arrow came on.

He saw Mr Ng's car coming towards him from the opposite direction at a high speed but decided to execute the discretionary right turn anyway.

The younger man, who was then travelling at speeds of up to 97kmh despite the 70kmh limit, was unable to avoid the taxi and slammed into it. The court heard that Yap's taxi was then travelling at a speed of 24kmh. Both vehicles spun and were severely damaged.

Ms Ong, who was seated in the rear-left passenger seat, was taken to the National University Hospital, where she died of multiple injuries about three hours later.

The three other taxi passengers were taken to the same hospital. Mr Zon Lim, who was seated in the front seat, suffered a brain injury and had multiple glass pieces in his wounds.

The rear-right passenger, Mr Lim Jin Jie, was found with blood outside his brain and a spinal fracture. Both men were hospitalised for eight days. Mr Ting, who was seated in the rear-centre passenger seat, suffered a "traumatic brain injury" and was vegetative at first but later "managed to progress", the court heard.

The Straits Times understands that action will be taken against Mr Ng. Yap is now out on bail of $10,000 and is expected to be sentenced on Aug 2.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2019, with the headline 'Cabby admits to negligent driving and causing NUS student's death'. Print Edition | Subscribe