The family of a 24-year-old motorcyclist, who was struck by a falling tree branch as he was on his way to work on 20 July last year, are suing NParks for negligence in failing to reasonably maintain the health of the tree.
The Malaysian victim, Lee Jia Jun, was flung off his bike and suffered such severe head injuries that he is now in a mentally disabled state. He is presently still undergoing treatment in Ipoh.
Acting on behalf of Lee, his wife and sister are suing Nparks for not ensuring that the tree did not pose a risk to commuters and pedestrians.
They have also accused NParks of failing to conduct adequate crown reduction pruning exercises to limit tree exposure and damage from adverse weather conditions.
In its defense, NParks has said that there was a system in place to assess the condition of the trees along Admiralty Road West.
This system apparently included regular inspections and maintenance works, which were carried out on trees along the road before the near-fatal accident.
Adding that the tree was healthy, the group hypothesised that the cause of the tree branch breaking was likely due to exposure to unusually stormy weather for days leading up to the incident, accompanied by wind speeds of up to 50 km per hour.
NParks also put forth that an inspection was conducted by an arborist on March 10 2015, followed by tree removal and pruning some three months later. Further pruning was conducted in Jan last year.
Such a lawsuit could help clarify the extent of NPark’s liability in such cases, especially since falling tree branches and trunks have led to several near-lethal accidents in recent years.
Besides the case of Lee, the case of Singapore’s iconic heritage Tembusu tree toppling and killing a woman earlier this year has also attracted considerable public scrutiny against NParks.