Punctured tyre could have caused car to lose control

Private-hire car driver Hajee Mohamed Muhamed Thawheed, 31, was negotiating a right bend under the Keppel Road flyover when he lost control of the vehicle, which landed in a drain, a coroner's court heard yesterday.

The vehicle hit a man - Bangladeshi construction worker Hasan Maruf, 35 - who was walking along the road and later found dead inside the drain on Oct 6 last year.

The court also heard that an unspotted fault in the rented vehicle might have caused the fatal accident indirectly.

An inspection of the vehicle conducted after the accident showed significant damage and a puncture on the right front tyre, where air leaks were detected at the inner side wall.

The mechanical inspection concluded, among other things, that the drastically lowered air pressure in the punctured tyre would cause the driver to lose control, especially at a high speed, the court heard.

"There was no clear sign of any impact mark at the cut inner side wall, and it was likely the cut had been there before the event."

In his findings, State Coroner Marvin Bay said there was no basis to suspect foul play as he found Mr Hasan's death to be an "unfortunate traffic misadventure".

He noted that Mr Hajee Mohamed - who had rented the car from Rentdirect for a week from Sept 30 to service customers via the Uber and Grab ride-hailing applications - "had fought to regain control" as the vehicle slewed towards the slope.

But he encroached onto the slope and inadvertently hit Mr Hasan, causing his fatal injuries, added the coroner.

None of the witnesses saw how the collision occurred or where the car had come from.

Mr Hajee Mohamed, who suffered superficial cuts on his neck, also did not initially know that his car had struck Mr Hasan.

The victim and another worker had been performing housekeeping duties at a worksite in Keppel Road.

He was walking on the grass verge along the road towards the site office for a toilet break when the accident took place.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2017, with the headline 'Punctured tyre could have caused car to lose control'. Print Edition | Subscribe