Jail for lorry driver in fatal accident; he drove at up to 144kmh and nodded off at the wheel

Andy Cheong Chin Chye was sentenced to 11 months' and 6 weeks' jail and banned for driving for 9 years. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - After downing two cups of beer, a self-employed man was driving a lorry at a speed of up to 144kmh along Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) when he nodded off at the wheel and hit the rear of another lorry.

Andy Cheong Chin Chye, 30, was driving at almost double the 80kmh speed limit, a district court heard on Thursday (Feb 13).

His front passenger, Mr Tee Teck Eng, 29, smashed through the front windscreen and later died in hospital. But instead of helping him, Cheong fled the scene.

Said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kevin Ho: "The accused did not bother to even call the police or for any assistance, even though the deceased was (his) friend of almost 15 years.

"Subsequently, after much persuasion from his family members, (he) returned to the scene about four hours after the accident."

Cheong, a Singaporean, pleaded guilty to one count each of failing to stop after the accident, causing Mr Tee's death by dangerous driving, and failing to help after the crash.

He was sentenced to 11 months and six weeks' jail, and disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for nine years.

The court heard that on Dec 14, 2018, Cheong had started work at 9am and finished around 8pm.

He and Mr Tee went to a coffee shop near Pioneer Road North to have dinner with Cheong's father-in-law and the man's friend. He had beer during the meal.

He decided to take Mr Tee home in the lorry, while his older brother was called to pick up the father-in-law in a car.

The two vehicles were travelling along the AYE towards Marina Coastal Expressway around 11.40pm when Cheong nodded off and hit a lorry.

DPP Ho said Cheong had admitted he felt sleepy before the accident and "did not have proper rest" on that day.

While his brother stopped to help, Cheong drove off in the car without his sibling's consent. He returned to the scene around 3.30am.

Mr Tee was taken to hospital, where he died of a head injury about two hours later.

The court heard that after a test, no alcohol was found in Cheong's blood sample.

He was offered bail of $15,000 on Thursday and will start his sentence on March 5.

For causing Mr Tee's death by dangerous driving, he could have been jailed up to five years.

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