(THE NEW PAPER) - After graduating with a diploma in information security in 2013, he had planned to further his studies in university.
But one's man folly in driving while drunk not only ended Mr Sim Ying Chong's dream, it also made him lose his father and his home of 17 years.
The drink-driver's car crashed into his father's stalled taxi on the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) after the Bedok North Road exit in the early hours of March 18 last year.
Mr Sim's father, Mr Sim Beng Guan, 59, was seriously injured in the accident. He remained bed-bound and uncommunicative for eight months until his death last November.
Raymond Chiang, 29, pleaded guilty to drink-driving and doing a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide on Wednesday. He was sentenced to four months' jail, $4,000 fine and disqualified from driving for eight years.
Apart from giving Mr Sim's family eight months of grief and uncertainty, Chiang's folly also wrecked his future.
He told The New Paper on Wednesday: "My father had hoped for me to further my studies, but because of his sudden death, I had to find a job to support myself instead of going to university after completing my national service (NS)."
Mr Sim, 24, who now works as an IT developer, said he and his older sister had lived with their father in his four-room flat in Yishun for the past 17 years, after his father and mother got divorced.
What drivers should do after an accident
When a road accident occurs, the driver must turn on the hazard lights of the vehicle, call an ambulance and the Traffic Police if someone is injured, and place the triangular hazard sign at least 300m away to alert other motorists moving towards the vehicle.
In giving this advice, Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay noted that in a minor accident, the driver should move the vehicle to an area away from oncoming traffic so it would not block the road or jeopardise his safety.
If the car has broken down, the driver should move to a safe spot away from oncoming traffic. If that is not possible, he should position himself so that the car is between him and oncoming traffic.
Singapore Safety Driving Centre operations manager Gerard Pereira, 59, said drivers who leave the vehicle on the road and stand there after an accident assume other drivers can see them, but that may not be the case.
While drivers tend to be more careful when the road is busy, they may be less attentive and may drive faster when the road looks clear, so they may think the stalled vehicle in front is moving when it is not, he added.
- Elaine Lee
Mr Sim said he earns about $2,300 a month, and contributes about $500 to the household expenses, with his mother and sister also chipping in.
The family also had to sell his father's flat and downgrade to a three-room-flat nearby, which they will move into when the paperwork is completed.
"My dad used to pay $1,600 a month for the mortgage. But after the accident, we had to ask Housing Board for financial assistance, and we had to stop paying for a while."
Mr Sim said he took leave and went with his sister, to attend Chiang's sentencing.
"It was our first time seeing the driver," he said.
"He never once went to the hospital to visit my father or paid his respects at the wake."
Mr Sim felt the sentencing was too lenient because a life was lost.
Growing up in a single-parent family, he said his father had it tough.
"My father was the sole breadwinner of the family, and he had to work two jobs to support us - real estate agent by day and taxi driver by night - for the past 14 years.
"We had to learn to be independent at a young age because my father would always come back when we were asleep."
Mr Sim said his father was a jovial man despite having to work long hours.
He said: "He was a very sociable man. He always cracked jokes and livened up the mood, whether at home or with his friends.
"Now that he is gone, I feel empty inside."
Asked about his father's accident, Mr Sim said: "Back then I was still in NS. When I woke up at around 4am, I realised I had received a lot of missed calls from the hospital."
Mr Sim, who was based at Jurong Camp 1, rushed to Changi General Hospital but did not think it was a serious accident because his father was a safe driver.
"It was only when the doctor told me of his injuries that I realised it was very bad."
Mr Sim said that after the ordeal, he had become closer to his mother, Madam Cindy Ng, 56, who owns a beauty salon, whom he used to see only once a week in the past.
He said: "But after this happened, I met her quite often to visit my father. She was sad and felt he did not deserve this.
"My sister will be moving out next year. My mother and I will be living in the new flat."