Car plunged into canal due to human error, inquiry told
Coroner's inquiry into Alexandra Canal accident where mum & daughter were killed
She was supposed to make a right turn after emerging from the basement carpark of Valley Point Shopping Centre at River Valley Road.
But the car went straight, crashed through a railing and plunged into a canal.
Madam Yep Lay Choo, 51, and her only daughter, student Kimberly Poon Hui Yin, 22, who was in the front seat, were found drowned in the car, in the 3m-deep murky water.
A coroner's inquiry into their deaths yesterday heard that Madam Yep could have been distracted while she drove her brother's silver Mercedes-Benz E250 at 9pm on Jan 24 this year.
Madam Yep, who worked in the logistics and transportation industry, jammed the brakes only after the car hit the railing about three seconds later.
But it was too late. The railing gave way and the car plunged into the Alexandra Canal, which is about 15m from the carpark exit.
Inspector Jegadeeswaran, who is the investigation officer and goes by only one name, told the court he felt the accident was due to human error.
He said Madam Yep was not a first-time visitor to the shopping centre. She had visited it several months before the tragedy.
Insp Jegadeeswaran told State Coroner Marvin Bay that Madam Yep had a history of speeding and had received a summons several times for the offence between 1992 and 2012.
He said the Mercedes had come out of the carpark at an apparently high speed.
The "exact speed of the vehicle" could not be verified as there were "no speed cameras in the surrounding area", said Insp Jegadeeswaran.
But from closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage, investigators deduced that Madam Yep was driving at a speed of about 35kmh.
Madam Yep's husband, Mr Robin Poon Joo Kim, 50, a businessman, had earlier driven her and their daughter to Great World City Shopping Centre before handing her the keys to the car.
He left in a taxi at about 6pm for a work-related meeting.
Madam Yep and Miss Poon went to the nearby Valley Point Shopping Centre, where they had dinner.
They shopped for groceries and went to the basement carpark at 8.54pm.
The car is seen coming out of the carpark about six minutes later, based on CCTV footage played in court yesterday. Itgoes straight into the railing and plunges into the canal.
The police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers arrived at the scene at 9.11pm.
About 20 minutes later, divers from SCDF's Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Dart) recovered Miss Poon's body. It was floating between two seats in the fully submerged, overturned car.
Madam Yep's body was recovered at 9.50pm. It was found behind the front seats.
They were not buckled in.
Investigations revealed their seat belts had been engaged before the accident.
Insp Jegadeeswaran also said Madam Yep had a tumour in her brain, which was removed on July 24, 2013.
He added: "There was no evidence of impending stroke or seizure related to the tumour and the operation she had undergone."
Mr Poon attended yesterday's inquiry. He later told reporters outside the court that he misses his wife and daughter.
He said: "I have to accept it. There's nothing I can do. Life has to go on."
When asked about Madam Yep's history of speeding, he said it had happened in her younger days and she had exceeded the limits only by about 10kmh.
"She could even drive a lorry. I have no doubts in her driving skills," he added.
Coroner Bay will deliver his findings next Monday.