Singapore— On Wednesday, July 17, fifty-five-year-old taxi driver Yap Kok Hua entered a guilty plea to one charge of a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, as well as another of causing grievous hurt to the surviving three passengers of a 2018 accident.
One woman, a 19-year-old undergraduate of the National University of Singapore (NUS), Kathy Ong, was killed in the accident, which occurred on April 19 last year.
Ms Ong and her companions were all headed to NUS in the cab driven by Mr Yap, who had picked them up from Clementi Mall at around 7:30 pm. The driver made a discretionary turn to the right but ended up in a collision with an oncoming car.
The other three passengers of the cab, Zon Lim Thou Jung, Lim Jin Jie, and Ting Jun Heng, sustained serious injuries and were brought to the hospital.
Unfortunately, the driver did not check whether the three passengers in the back of the cab were wearing their seat belts at the time of the collision.
The other car involved was a Nissan Presage, whose driver, 21-year-old Ng Li Nin, had right of way. As he was driving at a speed between 92kmh and 97kmh, Mr Ng was unable to prevent a collision with the cab, which ended up hitting another car.
Ms Ong, who was seated in the back, died at National University Hospital (NUH) due to multiple injuries. She had been partially thrown out the window.
Mr Ting suffered a traumatic brain injury and broken ribs and pelvic bones. He spent 54 days in the hospital, at first in a coma. He is still undergoing rehabilitation.
Both Mr Zon Lim and Mr Lim Jin Jie were hospitalised for 8 days, with Mr Zon Lim suffering from multiple lacerations and glass in his wounds, and Mr Lim Jie Jin sustaining bleeding in his brain and a spine fracture.
The Deputy Public Prosecutor on the case, Timotheus Koh, has asked that Mr Yap receive a jail sentence of at least 8 weeks, as well as a five-year driving ban.
Mr Koh called the incident “a serious one with awful consequences”, and cited Mr Yap’s poor driving record of multiple traffic offenses from 1992 to 2016, including careless driving, speeding and failing to conform to a red light signal.
Mr Koh said he had not learned from his mistakes but “decided to approach traffic safety with the same nonchalance as he had in the past”.
Mr Yap’s lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong are asking for not more than six weeks’ jail and a driving ban of not more than five years for their client.
According to Messrs Tan and Wong, Mr Yap was remorseful, and that Mr Li had been speeding. If he had been driving at the speed limit of 70kmh, the accident would have been avoided, they said, based on a Health Sciences Authority report.
The presiding judge on the case, District Judge Victor Yeo, will mete out his sentence on August 2.
If found guilty of committing a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, Mr Yap can be incarcerated for up to two years and be made to pay a fine. For causing grievous hurt by a negligent act, however, he could be jailed for up to two years. -/TISG