Maid's death 'a traffic misadventure'

State Coroner Marvin Bay said motorists driving their vehicles in free-moving lanes of the road may not notice pedestrians weaving between stationary vehicles while crossing the road.
State Coroner Marvin Bay said motorists driving their vehicles in free-moving lanes of the road may not notice pedestrians weaving between stationary vehicles while crossing the road.PHOTO: ST FILE

Pedestrians face tremendous risks when they cross congested roads by traversing lanes between stationary vehicles, said a coroner.

State Coroner Marvin Bay said this yesterday when he found the death of a Filipino domestic worker who was struck by a minibus to be a "most unfortunate traffic misadventure".

Madam Emely Tumaneng Salazar, 44, died from multiple injuries in hospital some 4 1/2 hours after the incident in Balestier Road at 10.20am on April 16.

The coroner said motorists driving their vehicles in free-moving lanes of the road may not notice pedestrians weaving between stationary vehicles while crossing the road.

"Such intrepid road-crossers are often in a hurry and may fixate on their intended destination, rather than monitor traffic flow in the next lane, causing them to be oblivious to the presence of any oncoming vehicles in these lanes.

"Tragic consequences can ensue when a pedestrian unwittingly steps into the travel path of such a vehicle, and at a closing distance which may be insufficient for the driver to effectively react by braking or otherwise undertaking evasive manoeuvres," he said.

NOT ALERT WHILE CROSSING

Such intrepid road-crossers are often in a hurry and may fixate on their intended destination, rather than monitor traffic flow on the next lane, causing them to be oblivious to the presence of any oncoming vehicles in these lanes.

STATE CORONER MARVIN BAY, on how an accident may occur.

The inquest heard that minibus driver Mahalingam Pichay was driving out of Zhongshan Mall that day to pick up and ferry passengers to the Ah Hood Road mall in Balestier. As Mr Pichay was travelling along the leftmost lane towards Lavender Street, he found that the road ahead was congested.

He then switched to the rightmost lane to make his way to his next pick-up point.

Madam Salazar suddenly appeared in front of his vehicle. He applied his brakes but it was too late. The minibus hit Madam Salazar, who suffered severe injuries.

Footage from the vehicle's dashboard camera shows Madam Salazar running across the road from left to right, and alongside a stationary white van in the centre lane, before emerging at the front of the minibus one car-length away.

Mr Pichay's view of Madam Salazar would likely have been obscured by the van, said the coroner.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'Maid's death 'a traffic misadventure''. Print Edition | Subscribe