Clementi crash that killed undergrad: Ex-cabby 65 per cent liable in suit filed by surviving passenger

Former cabby Yap Kok Hua was making a discretionary right turn when another car crashed into his vehicle. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The High Court on Friday (Oct 2) found that a former taxi driver, who was involved in an accident that left one of four passengers dead, has to bear 65 per cent of the responsibility in a suit filed by one of the surviving passengers.

The court also found that the driver of the car that crashed into the taxi at the junction of Commonwealth Avenue West and Clementi Road has to bear 35 per cent of the liability.

Former cabby Yap Kok Hua, 56, was making a discretionary right turn when Mr Ng Li Ning, 23, who was coming from the opposite direction in his Nissan, crashed into the taxi.

The traffic lights were in Mr Ng's favour at the time but he admitted that he was speeding.

The two were sued for negligence by National University of Singapore (NUS) student Ting Jun Heng, 23, who now walks with a slight limp and has a speech impediment.

The crash took the life of his fellow undergraduate Kathy Ong Kai Ting, 19, who was sitting beside him at the time of the accident on April 19, 2018.

On Friday, Justice Aedit Abdullah said that the greater degree of responsibility lay on Mr Yap.

"Priority lay with those vehicles going straight; it was incumbent upon (Mr Yap) to keep a proper lookout, and exercise prudent judgment in executing the turn. If there was any doubt about whether it was safe, (Mr Yap) should have either waited for oncoming traffic to clear, or for it to be stopped and the right-turn green arrow traffic lights to come on," said the judge.

However, Mr Yap failed to do so, and just followed another vehicle which had turned but was not hit by oncoming traffic, said Justice Aedit.

As for Mr Ng, the judge found that he failed to keep a proper lookout.

"Having the right of way essentially means that other users should yield or give way. But, having the right of way does not absolve that particular road user of the need to exercise due care," said the judge.

Ms Kathy Ong Kai Ting (right) was in the cab driven by former cabby Yap Kok Hua when the crash occurred. She was killed in the accident. PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW, KATHY ONG/FACEBOOK

Justice Aedit accepted the evidence of an expert witness, who analysed video footage of the accident to conclude that the average speed of the Nissan up to impact was 82kmh.

The judge said that when Mr Ng came to the junction and saw a vehicle turning, the appropriate reaction would have been to slow down, sound the horn if need be, and make sure no other vehicle was turning, but did not do so.

Justice Aedit rejected arguments by both defendants that there was contributory negligence by Mr Ting as he had failed to wear his seat belt.

The judge said there was no other evidence on this issue, such as from biomechanical or other experts, that the injuries suffered could only have been caused by the plaintiff not wearing his seat belt.

The quantum of damages will be determined at a separate hearing and will be borne by the defendants' insurers.

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