Death of rugby star Slemat Rakisan an unfortunate traffic misadventure, rules coroner

Former national rugby player Slemat Rakisan (facing camera, right) was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics after he was thrown off his motorcycle in an accident on March 17, 2017.
Former national rugby player Slemat Rakisan (facing camera, right) was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics after he was thrown off his motorcycle in an accident on March 17, 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Former national rugby player Slemat Rakisan was thrown off his motorcycle after it was hit by a stray tyre along Kranji Expressway more than two years ago.

The 57-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics in the incident on March 16, 2017. The tyre was found to be one of two that had been dislodged from a prime mover.

On Friday (May 10), State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam ruled his death as an unfortunate traffic misadventure.

"Prior to the accident, the prime mover had been poorly maintained... causing the two wheels to fly off the wheel axle and for one of them to strike Mr Slemat as he was travelling on his motorcycle," the State Coroner said in an inquiry into his death.

Experts had found that the prime mover was "not in road-worthy condition", she added.

Investigations revealed that the two rear left tyres had become dislodged as the driver was travelling along an upward slope.

The driver saw the tyres rolling off the prime mover, with one rolling to the left, and the other to the right towards a centre median, a small strip of raised land separating two roads.

 
 

The tyre bounced off the centre median and flew towards Mr Slemat, causing him to lose control of his motorcycle and to skid and fall.

Subsequent mechanical inspection of the prime mover showed that its wheel rim stud holes - for mounting the tyre to a vehicle's axle - were badly worn.

There were also signs of improper securing and tightening of the wheel studs and the wheel nuts. This caused the rotating left wheels to detach from the axle.

Tributes from members of the rugby fraternity poured in following Mr Slemat's death.

He had coached several secondary school rugby teams, and was with the Singapore Rugby Union and Singapore Society of Rugby Union Referees.

He left behind his wife and three grown-up children.