Elderly woman in back seat died after car crash with son at the wheel, coroner rules traffic misadventure
SINGAPORE: A 96-year-old woman died from injuries sustained in a traffic accident last year, with the coroner ruling her death an unfortunate road traffic misadventure.
In findings made available on Wednesday (Apr 15), State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam noted that Madam Heng Fong Boey was seated unbelted in the back of the car when a collision occurred.
She was thrown forward and found wedged at the front seat of the vehicle and died in hospital after suffering injuries including bleeding in the skull and fractures of the vertebra, rib, hip and thigh.
The coroner noted that Mdm Heng's son was travelling above the 60kmh speed limit before the collision.
The incident occurred on the night of Oct 8 last year along Tampines Avenue 12 towards Pasir Ris Drive 1, near the turn-off to Tampines Expressway (TPE).
Mdm Heng's son, Mr Soon Jin Joke, said he was driving his car along Tampines Avenue 12 on the rightmost lane at about 60kmh.
However, a speed analysis report later estimated that his speed was at about 79kmh to 80kmh while travelling along Tampines Avenue 12, and between 71kmh to 76kmh prior to the collision due to braking.
WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT
Mr Soon testified that he had gone for dinner with his mother and she was seated at the rear left passenger seat. Mdm Heng was feeling full and bloated after dinner and did not put on her seat belt, the court heard.
Mr Soon said he was the first vehicle in the lane towards Pasir Ris Drive 1 and there was no other vehicle ahead of him.
When he reached the junction leading to TPE, he noted that the traffic lights were green in his favour and he drove straight into the junction.
However, another driver Mr Ernest Fu Weizhong was making a right turn from the opposite carriageway, which had two turn-right lanes onto the TPE guided by only a green arrow traffic light signal.
In the absence of the green arrow signal, vehicles are permitted to execute discretionary right turns, the court heard.
Footage from Mr Fu's car showed Mr Fu following suit after vehicles ahead of him moved off. The footage confirmed that the lights were green for Mr Soon.
Mr Fu crashed into Mr Soon's vehicle in a head-on collision, with the latter saying he had no time to react or apply his brakes.
After this, Mr Soon's car rolled backwards and collided into a third car. A fourth car was damaged by flying debris from the first collision.
MOTHER AND SON TAKEN TO HOSPITAL
Mr Soon and Mdm Heng were taken to Changi General Hospital, with Mr Soon being discharged after receiving outpatient treatment.
His mother was treated at the high dependency ward for four days before she died at about 3am on Oct 12.
Her cause of death was determined to be hypertensive heart disease with pulmonary fat embolism following skeletal fractures.
The death was deemed unnatural due to the fat embolism following the skeletal fractures, which had been sustained in the accident.
The coroner noted that footage from in-car cameras showed that Mr Soon's car "was fast approaching" when Mr Fu was making the right turn.
"According to the speed analysis report, Mr Soon's speed of travel was estimated to be 71kmh to 76kmh prior to collision, which is above the prescribed speed limit of 60kmh," she said.
"It was also estimated that Mr Soon's motor car would have been about 52.1m away from the junction when Mr Fu's headlamp was first seen, as Mr Fu prepared to make the right turn."
The coroner added that Mr Fu's "ill-timed right turn left little time for the driver of the approaching vehicle to react".
She found Mdm Heng's death an unfortunate road traffic misadventure and expressed her condolences to the late woman's family for their loss.