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Cyclist jailed 1 week for crashing into pedestrian, who later died, at Geylang

SINGAPORE — A cyclist crashed into a pedestrian, costing the man his life, after failing to keep a proper lookout while riding along Sims Avenue.

Cyclist jailed 1 week for crashing into pedestrian, who later died, at Geylang

The intersection of Sims Avenue and Lorong 33 Geylang where cyclist Salminen Toni Timo (right) crashed into pedestrian Chew Fook Yew, who later died of his injuries.

  • A 53-year-old man died in hospital five days after being hit by cyclist Salminen Toni Timo 
  • Timo was riding along Sims Avenue and failed to keep a proper lookout
  • A judge found no significant contributory negligence on the pedestrian’s part
  • While cyclists are more inclined to focus on the road, it is no excuse to overlook pedestrians, the judge warned

 

SINGAPORE — A cyclist crashed into a pedestrian, costing the man his life, after failing to keep a proper lookout while riding along Sims Avenue.

For his actions, Salminen Toni Timo was jailed one week on Thursday (Dec 10).

The Finnish man, 42, had pleaded guilty last month to causing Chew Fook Yew’s death by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide.

Chew, then aged 53, died in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) five days after the accident.

In his brief sentencing remarks, District Judge Christopher Goh noted from police camera footage that Chew was crossing the road “at an angle in the general direction of traffic”.

However, there was no significant contributory negligence on Chew’s part that would warrant a fine as sought by Timo’s lawyer, the judge said.

He added: “With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps it could be said that the deceased should not have crossed the road where he did. Nonetheless, he was not jaywalking as the signalised pedestrian crossing was at least 50m away.”

WHAT HAPPENED

The court heard that at about 6pm on Oct 1 last year, Timo was cycling east along Sims Avenue in the second lane of the road, because cars were parked in the first lane.

The weather was fine, traffic flow was moderate and visibility was clear at the time.

Chew was standing on the footpath on the other side of Sims Avenue, before stepping onto the lane nearest the footpath and waiting for the road to be clear, so he could cross.

Timo said that he was about 40m to 50m away from Chew when he first saw the pedestrian do this.

Still cycling on the same lane, Timo then saw Chew walking briskly onto the second lane of Sims Avenue on the other side of the road, but he did not brake to slow down.

Timo had an “unobstructed and clear view” of the road ahead and surrounding area, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Rimplejit Kaur told the court.

As Chew walked towards the lane on which Timo was cycling, he failed to spot the pedestrian.

Timo said that he saw Chew at the last moment, when Chew was on his lane, and rang his bell and jammed on his brakes, causing Chew to turn towards him.

Timo could not brake in time and crashed into the pedestrian, who fell backwards onto the road. Timo was flung off his bicycle and onto the road, near the non-signalised junction of Sims Avenue and Lorong 33 Geylang.

Timo attended to a motionless Chew and shouted for help. A passerby helped to call for an ambulance.

The cyclist waited at the scene until the ambulance arrived. He filed a police report himself about an hour later.

Chew was admitted to TTSH, where his brain was observed to be extremely swollen during surgery. His family decided to withdraw his blood pressure support after learning of the grave prognosis, and he was pronounced dead on Oct 6 last year.

NO EXCUSE NOT TO KEEP PROPER LOOKOUT: JUDGE

DPP Kaur sought at least three weeks’ jail, saying that regardless of Chew’s conduct, Timo would have been fully able to check his surroundings for pedestrians.

Timo’s lawyer, Mr Manoj Nandwani from Gabriel Law Corporation, asked for a fine of S$6,000 and a disqualification period instead.

The lawyer said that Timo has lived in Singapore since November 2018. On his LinkedIn profile page, it was stated that he works as a senior manager at German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies, which has its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore.

Mr Nandwani told the court that when the accident happened, Timo was trying to avoid another pedestrian standing in the first lane. There was also a vehicle to his left.

He has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, and has not ridden a bicycle since the accident.

District Judge Goh noted that the courts cannot disqualify Timo because bicycles are not categorised as motor vehicles under the Road Traffic Act.

After reviewing 240 cases of causing death by a negligent act, the judge said that fines were imposed in only 8 per cent of them. The majority of these cases of fines involved the deceased significantly contributing to their own deaths, such as when they crossed over barriers in the middle of the road.

Offenders have been fined when they caused the deaths of their loved ones or friends, the judge added.

The offence carries a punishment of up to two years' jail or a fine, or both.

Because there was no significant contributory negligence on Chew’s part, the judge found that a custodial sentence was warranted.

District Judge Goh further warned: “While I can understand that a cyclist would be more inclined to concentrate on the road ahead by the nature of riding a bicycle, nonetheless, it cannot be an excuse of not keeping a proper lookout for other road users, including and, in particular, pedestrians.”

Related topics

court crime negligence death cyclist

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