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Driver in fatal Woodlands crash had history of epilepsy and ignored doctor’s warnings to avoid driving

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However no conclusion could be made as to whether or not he was having a seizure at the time of the accident

SINGAPORE: A coroner’s investigation into the death of a 32-year-old car driver, who died after crashing into a public bus last year, has revealed that the driver suffered from epilepsy but repeatedly ignored doctors’ warnings and continued to drive.

The driver, Mr Muhammad Hadi Sazali, sped through a red light and crashed into Tower Transit bus service 858 in Woodlands. Mr Hadi was pronounced dead at the scene while a passenger on the bus, 53-year-old Madam Sariah Bakri who was on her way to work, also died as a result of the collision.

Madam Sariah’s death was initially ruled as accidental but coroner Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz has changed the cause of death to that of a misadventure on Thursday (16 Mar), after an inquiry showed that Mr Hadi suffered from epilepsy before his death.

Medical reports showed that he had been taking anti-epileptic drugs since his first attack in December 2014 and that his doctors repeatedly warned him not to drive. Despite this, Mr Hadi decided to drive his car to work at Tuas on the fateful morning of the tragic accident.

While driving along Woodlands Avenue 9, Mr Hadi’s car exceeded the speed limit of 60kmh and zoomed forward at a speed of 127kmh. Meanwhile, a Tower Transit bus was turning from Woodlands Avenue 4 into Woodlands Avenue 9.

Mr Hadi ran a red light and collided with the bus, causing the side of the bus to cave in. Madam Sariah, who was thrown from the bus, was found lying on the road and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The powerful impact caused Mr Hadi’s car’s hood to be crushed and he was found lying on the driver’s seat, bleeding from his mouth. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A forensic pathologist testified that it is impossible to observe signs of seizures from human tissues or organs during an autopsy as epileptic seizures are transient in nature. He added that dashboard camera footage recorded sounds of Mr Hadi shifting gears, suggesting that he was not having a seizure as there was no sign of any loss of control.

The serious damage that the accident caused to both the bus and Mr Hadi’s car also makes it impossible to confirm whether there was any mechanical failure.

As there is no conclusive proof that Mr Hadi suffered an epileptic fit that caused the accident, the coroner has issued an open verdict for his death.

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