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Jail for suspended lorry driver who sped and crashed on PIE, leaving passenger, 23, bedridden

SINGAPORE — Even though his licence had just been suspended due to the number of demerit points he had accumulated, Kervin Ang Chin Wee continued driving his lorry to deliver seafood.

Jail for suspended lorry driver who sped and crashed on PIE, leaving passenger, 23, bedridden

Kervin Ang Chin Wee outside the State Courts on Oct 14, 2021.

  • Kervin Ang Chin Wee’s licence had just been suspended when he continued driving his lorry for work
  • He drove at speeds of up to 145km/h, cut across lanes and crashed into a centre guard rail
  • The accident left his 23-year-old passenger with a serious brain injury
  • The victim remained bedridden and unable to speak or walk after nine months

 

SINGAPORE — Even though his licence had just been suspended due to the number of demerit points he had accumulated, Kervin Ang Chin Wee continued driving his lorry to deliver seafood.

He drove at speeds of up to 145km/h on the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) in wet conditions, cut across lanes, skidded and crashed into a centre guard rail.

His 23-year-old colleague, who was in the front passenger seat, sustained brain injuries so severe that he remained bedridden and unable to speak nine months after the accident.

Ang, 39, was jailed for two years, fined S$1,000 and disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for eight years on Thursday (Oct 14).

The Singaporean pleaded guilty to one charge each of dangerous driving that caused grievous hurt, driving while under a suspension, and driving without insurance.

He began serving his jail sentence immediately, with his driving ban to take effect after his release.

The accident took place at about 5.30am on Oct 7 last year, the court heard. In-car camera footage of what happened, captured by a passing vehicle, was posted on the SG Road Vigilante group on Facebook.

Ang worked as a delivery driver for ST Seafood at the time.

His usual working hours were from about 2.45am to 12pm, and he would collect seafood from Jurong Fishery Port to deliver either to his employer's factory at Bukit Batok or to wet markets.

That fateful morning, he began driving to the wet market at Block 260 Bukit Panjang Road with Mr Kiew Lian Khooi as his front passenger. Mr Kiew was employed by a related company of ST Seafood and would join Ang for deliveries.

The day before, Ang had been suspended from driving all classes of vehicles for four weeks. He hid this from his employer.

THE ACCIDENT

After entering the PIE towards Changi Airport around 5.30am, he switched to the extreme right lane of the four-lane expressway slightly before the Upper Bukit Timah Road exit in a bid to overtake vehicles.

At the time, traffic flow was light and it was drizzling, leaving the roads slightly wet.

Ang disregarded the lorry’s speed limit of 70km/h and drove at speeds between 118km/h and 145km/h. Because of this, he could not properly control the vehicle and skidded to the left when he switched lanes.

He then veered towards the right of the extreme-right lane and crashed into the centre guard rail, causing the lorry to topple onto its side.

Ang remained conscious and could get out of the lorry, but Mr Kiew was unresponsive and bleeding.

Passers-by in other vehicles stopped and called for an ambulance. Both men were taken in an ambulance to the National University Hospital (NUH).

Due to the accident, two lanes of the PIE remained closed till about 9.15am.

Ang suffered injuries that included a facial laceration. He was discharged from NUH the day after, and given 30 days of hospitalisation leave.

Mr Kiew sustained a traumatic brain injury, multiple cuts and a tooth fracture. He was admitted to NUH and remained unconscious despite undergoing brain surgery.

He stayed in the intensive care unit and his vitals continued to remain poor. He was then discharged at his family’s request and medically repatriated by ambulance to a hospital in his hometown of Ipoh, Malaysia.

As of July 21 this year, he remained bedridden and unable to speak due to a medical implant in his throat. He could not walk and could respond only minimally by moving his fingers.

He was dependent on his family members for basic needs such as feeding and diaper changing.

'VICTIM’S SEATBELT NOT A SENTENCING FACTOR'

Deputy Public Prosecutor Dhiraj G Chainani sought two to three years’ jail, a S$1,000 fine and an eight-year driving ban for Ang.

He noted that Ang had completely disregarded traffic rules, was behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle that would be more difficult to control, and drove within hours of handing in his licence to the Traffic Police.

In mitigation, Ang’s lawyer Justin Phua said that his client was the primary caregiver and provider for his sickly brother and elderly parents.

Because of that, he has struggled to make ends meet after being fired by ST Seafood in October last year over the accident, Mr Phua added.

He had not told his employer about his suspension out of fear of losing his job, and believing that the company could not find a replacement driver on time.

The defence counsel also argued that Ang was always pressed for time to complete his deliveries due to the hectic schedule and the perishable nature of seafood.

Although Mr Phua claimed that Mr Kiew had not been wearing his seatbelt, District Judge Kok Shu En said that this did not change Ang’s level of culpability and should not be factored into his sentence.

The victim’s injuries were “undoubtedly serious”, the judge added, and Ang was ultimately the one who drove at high speed and caused the accident.

For the most serious offence of dangerous driving, Ang could have been jailed for at least one year and up to five years. Those convicted will also be banned from driving for at least eight years.

Related topics

court crime lorry driver PIE accident brain injury

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