SINGAPORE: A six-year-old boy from India who was killed after being run over by a bus last year had crossed the road ahead of his mother, a coroner's inquiry found on Monday (Feb 18).
Delivering her findings, State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said children must always be supervised on roads, with an adult holding their hands.
Arul Dev Ashwin was knocked over by a bus on the morning of May 24, 2018, along Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5. He was pinned under the bus and taken to National University Hospital with multiple injuries, where he died that same morning.
The court heard that the boy had been with his mother, Ms Nagarajan Lakshmi, on the way to a class in Choa Chu Kang.
Ms Lakshmi testified that she had been holding onto her son with one hand and a skate scooter in the other hand while they crossed the main road at Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5.
However, her son let go of her hand and began walking ahead of her towards the centre divider. She was about two steps behind when he reached the divider.
She then saw him take two steps down from the divider onto the road, when a bus knocked him down. According to her, the bus drove about a bus length ahead before coming to a stop, with her son lying near the right rear tyre.
His body was later sent home to India.
BUS DRIVER DID NOT NOTICE BOY UNTIL IMPACT
The driver of the SMRT bus, Mr Anuar Mahat, said during the proceedings that he had been plying service 983 at the time and did not notice the boy.
He became aware of the boy's presence only after feeling an impact at the front right portion of his bus. He looked out of the windscreen and saw the side of the bus had hit the boy.
When he realised that the bus had collided into the six-year-old, the bus driver stopped the bus and contacted his control room to tell them about the accident.
Two witnesses - a passenger on the bus and a bystander with his back facing the road - said they did not know where the boy had come from.
In her blind-spot analysis, a forensic scientist found that the boy, who was about 1.18m tall, was likely obscured from the bus driver's view when he was on the centre divider.
He was not visible in the bus' front-facing camera at the estimated time of the collision, and no footage capturing the actual collision was found.
The coroner said "it is important to bear in mind that children are generally impulsive and known to behave unpredictably".
She added that children are easily distracted and can be hard for drivers to spot.
"Parents and child-minders can use this opportunity to teach the child to identify safe crossing places, to anticipate driver behaviour and to generally be aware of the traffic environment," she said.
"These simple steps would go a long way in limiting the number of child casualties on our roads."
She said the boy's death was "an unfortunate traffic misadventure" and extended her condolences to his family.