boom Crane hits bridge, pierces car with
I opened the back door and was relieved to see that both of them were okay. But my son was covered with shattered glass from the windscreen, especially his hair.
- Mr Tonny Neo
He was driving behind a lorry crane when he noticed that its boom (the lifting arm of a crane) was extended.
Then he heard a loud bang.
Mr Tonny Neo, 37, did not see it but the extended boom had smashed into a pedestrian overhead bridge, dislodging two large pieces.
Before he could react, one piece plunged towards his car and pierced through the windscreen on the front passenger side.
The metal rod, which was about 3m long, brushed against the left side of his body and - to his horror - continued towards the rear where his wife and baby were seated.
Miraculously, the rod went between mother and son and stopped a mere 2cm from the six-month-old baby who was in a car seat.
The baby's left knee was bruised while Mr Neo suffered fractures to his ribs and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The family's close shave with death happened around 10.30am on Oct 29, 2011, after the exit at Paya Lebar Road on the Pan Island Expressway (PIE)in the direction of Tuas.
Recalling that fateful day, Mr Neo, who is self-employed, said he was driving back to his office at Bukit Batok.
"We were going out later so I decided to bring my son out. We live in the east and my wife could play with him in the car while I met my client," he said.
When driving along the PIE, he saw a lorry crane with an extended boom in front of his silver Toyota Allion.
"Suddenly, I heard a loud bang. My instinct told me something might fall. I tried to avoid it but it happened too fast," Mr Neo said. "The moment I accelerated, the boom came crashing down."
A part of the boom that had been dislodged landed beside his car, while the other piece came hurtling towards him and smashed into the windscreen.
"I thought I was going to die. I never expected it to hit me. I thought I could avoid it, but it came right into my car."
When the metal rod stopped just 2cm from his baby, his unhurt wife became hysterical.
He said: "It was terrifying. For a few seconds, I was shocked. I got down from the car, panicking, as my wife was screaming. I opened the back door and was relieved to see that both were okay.
"But my son was covered with shattered glass from the windscreen, especially his hair. We had to remove them carefully in case they cut him."
Suddenly, Mr Neo felt pain in his side.
He said: "I wasn't aware that I was hurt. I had difficulty breathing. Passers-by helped me lie down and called an ambulance. I was conscious throughout. It was very painful."
The ambulance arrived 15 minutes later because the accident had caused a massive jam, he said.
"They (paramedics) secured my neck and asked me not to move because they didn't know what had happened."
All three of them were taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
The lorry crane driver, Li Qiang, 40, was yesterday jailed for a week and banned from driving for nine months for crashing a heavy vehicle against a structure.
He was accused of causing the crane boom to hit an overhead bridge, which was 4.5m from the ground, by failing to retract the boom. Court documents showed that Li had taken charge of the lorry crane with an unladen weight of more than 2,500kg on Oct 29, 2011, at about 8am.
He drove the vehicle to a worksite at Lion City Hotel, in Geylang, where he loaded a container onto it at about 10.20am, and drove away without lowering the boom.
DID NOT CHECK
Investigations showed that he did not check and had not bothered to check whether the crane arm had been lowered before he drove away from the worksite because there was always a safety officer to check if the crane arm was down.
He collided into the pedestrian overhead bridge 17 minutes later.
It cost $28 to repair the bridge and it was restored within a day. But Mr Neo spent about $40,000 to repair his car.
For 40 minutes after the accident, all lanes on the affected section of the PIE were closed as a forensic team conducted investigations. Traffic resumed about 2½ hours after the accident.
The horrific experience has affected Mr Neo badly.
He said: "I had problems driving. Initially, I couldn't drive. Even now, I would still avoid taking the PIE. If I have to, I will ask my wife to drive."
The pain from his rib fractures still keeps him awake at night.
"I need painkillers to sleep. It is painful if I exert myself. I have to change my lifestyle. I can't carry heavy things to meet my clients any more."
Despite this, Mr Neo is thankful that his wife is alive when it could easily have been a tragedy if she had been in the front passenger seat.
"Because I took my boy out with us, my wife did not sit in front," he said.
I thought I was going to die. I never expected it to hit me. I thought that I could avoid it but it came right into my car.
- Mr Tonny Neo
What happened BY THE numbers
Car driver sees a crane with its boom extended. His wife is in the back seat on the left, and the baby is on her right.
Suddenly, the crane's extended arm hits the pedestrian overhead bridge. Two parts of the boom dislodge.
One part falls beside the car. Another part pierces
into the left side of the car's windscreen and goes straight towards the baby.
The boom stops about 2cm from the baby, who is seated in a baby chair.
The driver gets out and opens the back door to find his baby covered with shattered glass.
Heavy vehicles involved in fatal accidents: