SINGAPORE: The driver of an SMRT taxi which ploughed into pedestrians at the junction of Alexandra Road in March had a ruptured liver tumour, causing him to lose consciousness at the time of the accident, a coroner’s inquiry found on Wednesday (Sep 18).
A 66-year-old woman died in the accident and another pedestrian was injured.
READ: Woman dies after taxi ploughs into pedestrians at junction of Jalan Bukit Merah, Alexandra Road
The incident happened at about 7pm on Mar 22 at the cross junction of Alexandra Road, Jalan Bukit Merah and Queensway.
Videos on social media showed the taxi, with its hazard lights on, approaching a stationary car on the first lane. The taxi then swerved abruptly to the left onto the second lane, before accelerating and turning right into oncoming traffic at the junction.
The victim suffered a head injury and died at National University Hospital (NUH). The coroner ruled her death an unfortunate traffic misadventure.
DRIVER FELT PAIN IN NECK, HAD BLURRY VISION
According to the taxi driver Mr How Yuen Fah in his testimony, he started his shift at about 6.30pm that day and picked up a group of three passengers from Bishan.
During the journey, he felt pain in his right abdomen and neck. He also started breaking out in a cold sweat and his vision became blurred.
He continued driving, however, as he was already reaching the destination and had applied medicated oil to his forehead and nose to feel better.
Mr How said the last thing he remembered before losing consciousness was signalling right at the Queensway junction.
He later woke up to his front seat passenger shouting at him, and realised that his taxi's windscreen was cracked.
PASSENGER PULLED STEERING WHEEL TO AVOID ANOTHER CAR
Based on the account of the taxi passengers, the person in the front seat saw that Mr How's eyes were closed when they were at the junction. The passenger tapped the driver on the shoulder but received no response.
When the taxi started to inch forward, one of the rear passengers shouted at the front passenger to switch on the hazard lights.
"The first passenger then pulled the steering wheel to the left to avoid a collision with the vehicle that was directly in front of them," noted the coroner.
"The first passenger stated that he did so as he feared for the safety of the people within the taxi and out of a state of panic."
The taxi later swerved to the right, picked up speed and collided into pedestrians. It eventually came to a stop when it mounted a kerb.
At NUH, a scan on Mr How revealed a liver tumour that had ruptured, causing bleeding into the abdomen.
The sudden rupture caused "a transient period of loss of consciousness", according to Assistant Professor Alfred Kow, senior consultant at the department of surgery in NUH.
Mr How had not been aware that there was a tumour in his liver.