SINGAPORE: A taxi driver who took his girlfriend's pills and some cough syrup for a headache drove dangerously and lost control of his vehicle, mounting a divider and crashing into a motorcycle and lorry.
The lorry mounted a pavement and trapped the motorcyclist, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Taxi driver Desmond Tan Tat Siong, 34, pleaded guilty on Thursday (Dec 12) to one charge of causing the death of the 57-year-old motorcyclist, with another charge of injuring the lorry driver taken into consideration.
The court heard that Tan had a severe headache at about 3pm on Sep 19 last year and decided to drive his cab to his girlfriend's home to sleep.
He took two Anarex pills, which had been prescribed to his girlfriend from Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic, as well as cough syrup that he had been prescribed by another clinic.
Anarex is used to treat a variety of conditions including headaches, joint pain and fever, and contains active ingredients orphenadrine citrate and paracetamol.
Reported side effects of orphenadrine include dizziness, restlessness, blurred vision and slight euphoria, and those who experience these side effects are advised not to drive or operate machinery.
Less than an hour later, at about 3.50pm, Tan drove his cab along Sungei Kadut Avenue towards Sungei Kadut Drive.
He came to a hump along a stretch of road that has several indications for motorists to reduce their speed, including signs alerting them to the strips and hump ahead.
Tan did not slow down as he approached a bend after the hump, going quicker than the speed limit of 60kmh, and lost control of his taxi.
He swerved left, then sharply to the right, and the cab mounted the centre divider and crossed over into the other side, crashing into a motorcycle and lorry travelling in the opposite direction.
MOTORCYCLIST PINNED UNDER LORRY
The motorcyclist Chong Ah Hee was riding slightly in front of lorry driver Tawrad Sharafod Ali, 28.
On impact, Mr Chong was flung upwards and onto the front of the lorry, which veered left as the motorcyclist landed on the pavement. The lorry mounted the pavement, pinning the motorcyclist underneath.
Mr Chong was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering multiple injuries.
The lorry driver suffered a bruise to his knee and a strained back, while Tan had a minor head injury and abrasions on his hands.
A doctor who examined Tan said he did not find any signs that Tan had blacked out before the crash, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Yen Seow.
DRUGS FROM MEDICATION FOUND IN TAN'S BLOOD
A toxicology report found several drugs in Tan's bloodstream due to the medication he had taken before the incident.
These include codeine, a cough suppressant that causes drowsiness, confusion and double vision as possible side effects, and dihyrocodeine, which may cause sleepiness and impair a person's cognitive functions.
The drugs found in his blood are also commonly reported to produce side effects such as a fast heart rate, dizziness, and blurred vision.
Those who suffer such side effects are not recommended to drive or operate machinery.
The prosecutor pushed for at least 11 months' jail, saying that Tan "had no business behind the wheel in his drug-intoxicated state".
"He should not have run the risk of endangering the lives of other road users," said the prosecutor, adding that it was "wholly fortuitous" that more people were not injured as the taxi spun out of control.
"The accused was driving in a highly dangerous and rash manner. He was a clear road hazard as he maintained his high speed of at least 60kmh at a bend, despite having gone through a hump and speed regulating strips," said the prosecutor.
He added that some of the drugs found in Tan's blood were active ingredients in prescription-only medicines.
Such medication can be sold only by a registered medical practitioner, but Tan had taken his girlfriend's pills without a doctor's prescription, said the prosecutor.
Driving while under the influence of drugs is a criminal offence. Tan had chosen to drive in an intoxicated state in what the prosecution described as "an act of complete selfish disregard for the safety of other fellow road users".
Tan will return to court for sentencing on Dec 27.