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No evidence of foul play in death of drunk cyclist run over by SBS Transit bus: Coroner

SINGAPORE — A 31-year-old cyclist who died after an SBS Transit bus struck and dragged him was intoxicated at the time. He had been cycling across a pedestrian crossing in Pasir Ris when he was hit.

The scene of an accident on March 19, 2021, after a collision between cyclist German Jr Miranda Gonzales and an SBS Transit bus on Loyang Avenue.

The scene of an accident on March 19, 2021, after a collision between cyclist German Jr Miranda Gonzales and an SBS Transit bus on Loyang Avenue.

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  • German Jr Miranda Gonzales, 31, was believed to be riding back home when he was hit by a bus
  • An SBS Transit bus that was turning right struck him as he cycled across a pedestrian crossing
  • He was dragged under the bus for 35m before it came to a stop
  • The bus driver claimed to have not seen him

 

SINGAPORE — A 31-year-old cyclist who died after an SBS Transit bus struck and dragged him was intoxicated at the time. He had been cycling across a pedestrian crossing in Pasir Ris when he was hit.

These details were revealed during a coroner’s inquiry into German Jr Miranda Gonzales’ death.

On Tuesday (Aug 31), State Coroner Adam Nakhoda released his findings and ruled that there was no evidence of foul play.

The accident happened on March 19 this year.

The Filipino man, who worked as an aircraft technician here, was believed to be riding back home when he reached the junction of Loyang Avenue and Pasir Ris Drive 1 around 10.30pm.

Footage from Land Transport Authority cameras showed him cycling across a zebra crossing and towards the signallised pedestrian crossing, while the bus was approaching the junction.

Mr Ku Chee Kong, the SBS bus driver, was on his third shift that day. He had moved off from a bus stop and gone on the third lane of Pasir Ris Drive, before flashing the bus’ high-beam headlights when Gonzales went on the pedestrian crossing.

He flashed it a second time when the cyclist was in front of the bus and before the collision took place.

In the coroner’s findings, Mr Ku said that he made a right turn onto Loyang Avenue upon seeing the green light in his favour.

While doing so, he suddenly felt an impact to the front portion of the bus. He claimed that he did not immediately slow down because there were other vehicles approaching from the back, so he completed the turn and came to a stop along Loyang Avenue.

The front portion of the bus had collided with the rear of Gonzales’ bicycle. The cyclist and his bicycle were dragged under the bus for about 35m before Mr Ku stopped.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force was alerted to the accident, and paramedics had to use lifting equipment to rescue Gonzales. He was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple significant injuries.

A toxicological analysis later found 221mg of alcohol in every 100ml of his blood. 

A forensic pathologist said that this was consistent with Gonzales drinking shortly before his death, and that he “might be expected to be obviously drunk, with signs and symptoms like nausea, being unsteady on the feet, and staggering while walking”.

After being arrested and questioned by the authorities, Mr Ku claimed that he had not seen Gonzales and acknowledged that he had collided with something, but did not stop because he felt that it was not safe to do so immediately.

He also denied flashing the high-beam headlights to warn Gonzales, saying it was his normal routine to do so when entering a major junction.

Ms Leong Wai Ying, a senior forensic scientist from the Health Sciences Authority, prepared a reconstruction report.

State Coroner Nakhoda noted that in one hypothetical scenario she had posed, if Mr Ku braked one second after Gonzales went on the pedestrian crossing, he would have been able to stop in time. This would be on the faster end of the typical range of drivers’ perception-response time, which was between one and 2.3 seconds.

If Mr Ku reacted on the slower end of the range, he would likely have collided with the cyclist but may not have run over him.

In another scenario, if Mr Ku recognised the hazard upon flashing the high-beam lights and applied hard braking, he would have been able to stop in time, too.

Gonzales’ brother and the Traffic Police stated that they did not suspect foul play in his death.

State Coroner Nakhoda concluded: “Having stated my findings, I wish to convey my condolences to the family of Mr Gonzales for their sad loss.”

Chinese-language evening daily Lianhe Wanbao previously reported that he was survived by his wife and two young children in the Philippines.

It remains unclear if Mr Ku will be charged over the accident.

Related topics

death cyclist bus accident court Loyang Avenue Pasir Ris

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