'Cardboard auntie' death an unfortunate traffic misadventure: Coroner
Accident that killed 'cardboard auntie' an unfortunate traffic misadventure, says coroner
If she had been just a little slower or a little faster, the elderly cardboard collector might have avoided the accident that killed her that fateful day at Marsiling Lane.
Faced with a private bus that was parked by the side of the road ahead of her, Madam Ching Guan Eng, 86, pushed her trolley around it.
Unfortunately, she entered a blind spot at the front right side of the bus - just as the driver started it and drove off, after checking his mirrors.
The bus ran over Madam Ching and dragged her for a short distance.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
THE NEW PAPER, NOV 13, 2014
These details emerged yesterday during the coroner's inquiry into Madam Ching's death.
State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled out foul play in his findings and said the incident on Nov 12, 2014, was "an unfortunate traffic misadventure".
At about 8am that day, Mr Oh Chin Chai, 59, who had been driving for the bus company for a year, had just finished two assignments, the inquiry heard.
He parked by the side of Marsiling Lane and went to the market near Block 18 to buy a rubber mat for the bus.
Madam Ching was then pushing her trolley loaded with cardboard and other recyclable materials along the extreme left lane of Marsiling Lane.
It is believed that she was walking past the right side of the bus when Mr Oh returned and sat in the driver's seat.
TNP GRAPHICS: TEOH YI CHIE
Mr Oh told the authorities that he checked the side mirrors as well as his blind-spot mirror before moving off.
But unknown to him, Madam Ching was in his blind spot at the front right side of the bus, when he drove off and ran over her.
Singapore Civil Defence Force officers later extricated her from the rear right tyre of the bus. They also found her trolley under the bus.
Mr Bay said the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) was engaged to conduct an examination of the bus to determine the fields of view and blind spots.
The HSA report said that if Madam Ching, who was travelling from the driver's right to his left, was between 44cm and 93cm from the front of the bus, it was unlikely that the driver would have been able to see her.
Mr Bay pointed out that Madam Ching stood at a mere 1.47m and would have been even more inconspicuous as she would have been bending over while pushing her trolley.
An eyewitness, Mr Ramlee Sahat, 61, was cycling on the pavement on the other side of the road when he heard a woman scream.
Mr Ramlee said he was shocked as the bus continued moving after colliding with Madam Ching.
He rushed over and saw that she was still breathing when she was underneath the bus, near the rear axle.
Mr Bay said Madam Ching suffered severe head injuries, fractures to her right leg, a dislocated knee and abrasions all over her body - injuries consistent with a road traffic accident.
Mr Oh was earlier charged with negligence causing death, and was granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal.
After the hearing, Mr Oh's counsel, Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan, told The New Paper that he would be applying for the charge to be dropped.
Did windscreen frame cause blind spot?
The blind spot at the front right portion of the bus could have been caused by the frame to the right of the windscreen, said accident reconstruction expert Kelvin Koay.
Madam Ching Guan Eng's height of a mere 1.47m would not have been as crucial in that case, said Mr Koay, a senior forensics consultant, who runs Koays Accident Reconstruction and has worked on cases for more than 30 years.
If that was the case, the blind spot would have been a vertical strip, he said.
"Even if she were slightly taller, he may not have been able to see her."
What was most unfortunate was the timing of the accident, given that it was just a small window of time that she encroached into the blind spot of Mr Oh Chin Chai's bus, Mr Koay said.