Cabby pleads guilty to causing fatal accident after taking medicines that can cause drowsiness, blurred vision

Desmond Tan Tat Siong lost control of the taxi when he was driving along Sungei Kadut Avenue on Sept 19, 2018, and mounted a centre divider before hitting a motorcycle and a lorry. PHOTO: STOMP

SINGAPORE - A taxi driver got behind the wheel after consuming medications that have side effects such as drowsiness and caused a fatal accident last year.

Desmond Tan Tat Siong was driving along Sungei Kadut Avenue at around 3.50pm on Sept 19 last year when he failed to slow down as he approached a left bend.

He lost control of the taxi, which mounted a centre divider before hitting a motorcycle and a lorry.

The Malaysian motorcyclist, carpenter Chong Ah Hee, 57, landed on a nearby pavement and the lorry ran over him. He was pronounced dead at the scene about 20 minutes later.

Tan, 34, pleaded guilty in court on Thursday (Dec 12) to causing Mr Chong's death by performing a rash act.

He said he had felt a "severe headache" shortly before the tragedy. He went to his girlfriend's home and took two Anarex pills prescribed to her.

The prescription-only medicine contains orphenadrine, a skeletal muscle relaxant used to relieve pain and discomfort. Tan also consumed some of his own cough syrup, the court heard.

Orphenadrine, along with codeine, dihydrocodeine and (pseudo)ephedrine were later found in his bloodstream.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Yen Seow said: "All these drugs are certified to have dangerous side effects such as drowsiness, confusion, blurred or double vision, sleepiness... anxiety, nausea, and restlessness."

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There were no passengers in Tan's taxi when he later drove along Sungei Kadut Avenue.

Despite signs in the area telling motorists to slow down, he was going at speeds of up to 72kmh in the 60kmh zone when the accident happened.

Mr Chong died of multiple injuries. Tan, who suffered a minor head injury and wounds over his hands, was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

A doctor who attended to Tan found no signs that he had a blackout before the accident.

DPP Tan told District Judge Brenda Tan: "Rash driving and driving under the influence of drugs are social menaces that must be sternly deterred.

"The prosecution submits that a strong signal must be sent to emphasise that such irresponsible, deplorable, and reckless conduct will not be tolerated."

The DPP also urged the court to sentence Tan to at least 11 months' jail and disqualify him from driving all classes of vehicles for at least six years.

Tan, who was offered bail of $15,000, will be sentenced on Dec 27.

For causing Mr Chong's death by driving in a rash manner, he can be jailed for up to five years and fined.

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