Singapore

Driver fined, banned over tailgating crash that partially paralysed boy

A seven-year-old boy is now paralysed on the right side of his body because Lai Kum Tai, 40, decided to tailgate the car the boy was in while driving on the Seletar Expressway (SLE).

The boy spent four months in hospital after the accident on June 11, 2014, when he was just five years old.

He suffered grievous injuries, and a neurological report showed that he had suffered post-traumatic brain injury that left him with permanent paralysis on the right side of his body.

The boy cannot walk without difficulty for the rest of his life.

Yesterday, Lai was in court to admit to a charge of endangering life through a negligent act.

He has been banned from driving for three years. The former delivery driver was also fined the maximum of $5,000.

Another charge of causing hurt to the boy's mother was taken into consideration for sentencing.

He had failed to keep a proper lookout while driving a car at 80kmh on the SLE.

Lai was tailgating at only a car's length behind the car in front, which was being driven by the boy's father, then 44.

He had three passengers - his wife, also 44, his son, and the boy's grandmother.

When the father hit the brakes, Lai didn't have enough time to react and crashed into the car.

The accident caused the car to surge forward and hit the rear of another car. It eventually stopped near the centre guard railing.

Lai's lawyer, Mr Anil Singh Sandhu, said it was an unfortunate accident that arose because of his client's momentary lapse in concentration.

He said Lai had space to swerve to the left to take evasive action.

But he was prevented from doing so because a motorcyclist was travelling close behind between the lanes.

He said that Lai, a widower, is supporting his teenage daughter and still repaying debts to banks.

District Judge Low Wee Ping told Lai that what he had done was tailgating, and that he was fortunate not to have been charged with rash driving.

He said the injuries Lai caused to the boy were significant.

He hoped the case would deter others from tailgating on expressways at such a high speed.

He allowed Lai to pay $2,500 first and the balance by Jan 19.

Lai could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000 for causing grievous hurt by a negligent act as to endanger life.

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