Taxi driver charged with causing death of NUS undergrad Kathy Ong

Taxi driver charged with causing death of NUS undergrad Kathy Ong

Yap Kok Hua, taxi driver charged with causing death of NUS undergraduate
Taxi driver Yap Kok Hua, 55, at the state court on Jan 11, 2019. (Photo: TODAY/Raj Nadarajan)

SINGAPORE: A taxi driver was charged on Friday (Jan 11) with causing the death of Ms Kathy Ong, a National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate who was a passenger in his vehicle.

Yap Kok Hua, 55, is accused of a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, which is punishable with a maximum two-year jail term and a fine.

Yap allegedly failed to give way to another car while turning right onto Clementi Road on Apr 19 last year.

According to his charge sheet, the car had been going straight.

Yap, who is represented by defence lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong, will be back in court next month.

READ: NUS undergraduate dies after accident at Clementi Road junction

A passenger in his Premier taxi, 19-year-old NUS undergraduate Kathy Ong, was thrown partially out of the window from the rear seat and died in the accident.

She had been pursuing a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and showed an interest in biodiversity. 

Kathy Ong
Ms Kathy Ong was thrown partially out of a window after the taxi she was in collided with another vehicle. (Photos: Facebook/Roads.sg, Kathy Ong's family)

Another three NUS students in the taxi were injured and taken to hospital. Yap was also taken to hospital, along with the driver of the car.

A video of the accident was widely circulated online, and Yap was arrested several days later.

READ: Kathy was a ‘people person’, loved by many: Family, friends of NUS undergrad

Ms Ong's mother told Channel NewsAsia after the accident that her daughter had been very filial and cared deeply for her family. Her father said in a Facebook post that she had written down how she imagined her funeral to be, before the tragic accident.

Although he had initially felt it was "weird and inauspicious" for a 19-year-old to write about her own death, he wrote: "Now, looking at you ... I am thankful you wrote it. It's the closest I can get to hearing you because I never had the chance to have a last word with you."

The accident was one of two that occurred at cross junctions in the same month. Another accident happened on Apr 22 in Bukit Timah when a car that was attempting to make a right turn collided with an SMRT bus. A passenger who was seated in the back seat of the car later died of her injuries. 

READ: 23-year-old woman killed in accident between SMRT bus and car at Bukit Timah junction

The two accidents prompted the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to review the "discretionary" right turn at traffic junctions. 

LTA said that it plans to install red-amber-green arrows at as many of the country's 1,600 traffic junctions as possible. This means that motorists will have to wait for the arrow to turn green before making a right turn. 

READ: LTA to review traffic light scheme at right-turn junctions following fatal accidents

"Where it is not feasible to implement RAG (red-amber-green) arrows, LTA will look into other features, such as turning pockets, lighted road studs, integrated pedestrian countdown timers, dashed pedestrian crossing lines and 'Give Way to Pedestrian' signs, to ensure safety and smooth traffic flow," said Mr Chandrasekar, LTA's group director of traffic and road operations.

Road safety measures by LTA
Image showing road safety measures to be implemented at traffic junctions. (Source: LTA)

Source: CNA/ll(cy)

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