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Taxi driver, 73, jailed 2 weeks for negligence in accident that left passenger paralysed

SINGAPORE — A taxi driver who looked down momentarily while driving ended up mounting a kerb and colliding into a central divider.

Taxi driver, 73, jailed 2 weeks for negligence in accident that left passenger paralysed
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SINGAPORE — A taxi driver who looked down momentarily while driving ended up mounting a kerb and colliding into a central divider.

His passenger, then 70, was not wearing a seatbelt. The impact of the crash left her completely paralysed in her arms and legs, and she will likely remain bedridden for life.

On Wednesday (April 3), Gwee Sin Bin was sentenced to two weeks’ jail and disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for two years. The 73-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous hurt by a negligent act.

The court heard that on May 5, 2018, Madam Sng Kwee Cheng boarded Gwee’s taxi along Hougang Avenue 8. She sat in the rear left seat and told him she wanted to go to Ang Mo Kio Ave 10.

As Gwee drove on the centre lane along Hougang Ave 8 towards Hougang Ave 2, he lost control of his taxi. He veered towards the right, mounted a kerb and collided into the centre median, a sign and a couple of railings.

Gwee claimed that he looked down for a short moment as he was thinking of a short route to Mdm Sng’s intended location. He also claimed that by the time he realised he had mounted the kerb, it was too late for him to react and apply the brakes.

At the time, visibility was clear, the road surface was dry and traffic flow was light.

Mdm Sng was found unresponsive at the scene and taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. She suffered a traumatic spinal injury that resulted in complete paralysis of her upper and lower limbs.

She was warded for about four months before being transferred to Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital.

Gwee was diagnosed with a rib fracture when he visited the hospital the day after the accident.

A medical report from November last year stated that Mdm Sng remains dependent on a ventilator, and has not regained any meaningful motor or sensory function six months after her surgery.

It also stated that she will require lifelong medical attention, including a ventilator and a full-time caregiver.

She may be repeatedly hospitalised due to infections and her medical expenses could be in excess of S$100,000 a year, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Genevieve Pang told the court: “The victim is tetraplegic and bedbound. Her injury is likely to be permanent. The victim will not be able to return to any form of work… This is the highest form of disability sustained based on the work injury compensation guide and she should be awarded 100 per cent based on the injuries sustained.”

In asking for a two-week jail term, DPP Pang noted two factors that increased Gwee’s culpability — he had driven carelessly and also has a history of similar traffic offences that “reflects a pattern of careless driving”.

She did not seek a compensation order in light of his financial situation.

In mitigation, Gwee pleaded for a lenient sentence, saying he has high blood pressure and is helping to take care of his grandchildren.

For causing grievous hurt by a negligent act, he could have been jailed up to two years and/or fined up to S$5,000.

Related topics

court crime accident road taxi crash passenger paralysed bedridden Hougang Avenue 8 Hougang Avenue 2 divider kerb

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