Retiree gets driving ban, fine for causing wife's death

Quek Chin Ling lost his wife of more than 30 years when he accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake as his car reversed into her. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Quek Chin Ling lost his wife of more than 30 years when he accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake as his car reversed into her. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A retiree lost his wife of over 30 years when he accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake as his car reversed into her.

The front left tyre of Quek Chin Ling's car ran over Madam Ng Siew Fong, 64, who died from a head injury.

Yesterday, Quek, 69, was fined $7,000 and disqualified from driving for five years after pleading guilty to causing his wife's death by negligent driving.

State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said in an inquiry last year that there was no evidence of foul play, and she found Madam Ng's death to be "an unfortunate traffic misadventure".

District Judge Ng Peng Hong told Quek yesterday: "It is indeed unfortunate that this accident had taken place. I have no doubt it has taken a toll on you."

At around 7pm on April 25, 2017, Madam Ng, then a senior deputy director at the Ministry of Manpower's foreign manpower management division, had driven to Ang Mo Kio to meet her sister and some mutual friends to discuss their upcoming trip to China. Quek was in the front passenger seat.

But the couple could not find Block 332 and so asked another motorist, Mr Chin Chiap Shing, 56, for directions. When Mr Chin told them to follow his van, Quek took over the driving.

 
 
 

On reaching a carpark near the block, Quek got out of the car to thank Mr Chin and gave him $10 as a token of appreciation. He then got back into the car.

The chain of events turned tragic just as Madam Ng, who was in the front passenger seat, alighted from the car.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Asoka Markandu said: "The vehicle then started to move in reverse gear while the front passenger door was still open. The reverse movement of the car caused the door to hit (Madam Ng), who was standing on the road, and the impact made her fall to the ground."

On hearing his wife's scream, Quek wanted to stop the car, but he stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake. This caused the car to reverse at a higher speed, and the front left tyre ran over Madam Ng.

The car then swerved to the right, hitting two stationary motorcycles. It came to a halt after hitting a pillar.

Madam Ng was taken by ambulance to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 10.15pm.

Defence lawyer Diana Ngiam urged the court to impose a fine of less than $8,000, saying that her client was "still suffering" from his fatal mistake.

For causing his wife's death by negligent driving, Quek could have been jailed for up to two years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2019, with the headline 'Retiree gets driving ban, fine for causing wife's death'. Print Edition | Subscribe