Woman, 90, 'helpless' after losing part of foot in accident
Elderly widow, whose foot was amputated after bus accident, misses going out on her own
She used to be able to travel from her daughter's flat in Woodlands Circle to her friend's home in Toa Payoh to play cards.
Now, she cannot even walk a few steps to the toilet without feeling pain.
"I feel very helpless since I can no longer go anywhere by myself," Madam Ting Lang Kin, 90, told The New Paper yesterday.
On April 3 last year, part of her left foot had to be amputated after it was crushed by the rear left tyre of the bus she had fallen from.
The accident happened when the bus driver drove off before she could alight.
Madam Ting, a widow, had boarded SMRT bus service 913 for her daily trip to the market in Woodlands Centre Road that day.
The market was about 4km from her home.
At about 1pm, she pressed the buzzer so she could alight. But she took a while to reach the rear exit of the bus because of her age. The driver, Lau Pik Choong, 53, drove off without checking whether she had alighted safely, causing her to fall.
LIFE CHANGED: The front half of Madam Ting’s left foot was amputated in a five-hour operation. PHOTOS: DALENE LOW, COURTESY OF CATHERINE YEO
Madam Ting was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, where the front half of her left foot was amputated in a five-hour operation.
She was later transferred to Singapore General Hospital, where she was warded till May 21.
Yesterday, Lau was jailed for a week and disqualified from driving for 18 months for causing grievous hurt by performing a negligent act. (See report on facing page.)
Having led an active life despite her advanced age, Madam Ting has struggled to come to terms with the loss of her mobility and independence.
This change in her lifestyle had such a huge impact on her that she used to cry whenever she looked at her amputated foot.
She said : "I have learnt to accept it, but the pain I experience when I walk reminds me of my loss."
Even now, she feels traumatised by the incident.
When TNP visited her at her new home in Tampines yesterday, she kept asking her daughter, Madam Catherine Yeo, 53, if we were doctors who had gone there to take her back to the hospital for another operation.
Madam Ting, who has five children, had moved into Madam Yeo's four-room flat in Tampines Street 71 after she was discharged from hospital because it was more spacious and could accommodate a domestic helper to look after her.
She dearly misses her former way of life where she would take public transport on her own to go to the market or visit her friend in Toa Payoh almost daily to play cards from 10am to 5pm.
Madam Yeo, a cashier, said her mother had even gone to Japan on a holiday with her and some friends about a year before the accident.
Nowadays, the elderly woman needs help to move around the flat and cannot bathe or use the washroom by herself.
Although she uses a walker to get around at home, every step she takes causes pain in her left sole.
When she goes out, she has to use a wheelchair. As she needs help to get around, she seldom goes out and spends most of her time watching TV.
For someone who "hates being cooped up at home", the change in lifestyle was a difficult reality for her mother to accept, said Madam Yeo.
Every day, Madam Ting looks forward to the time of the day when her helper, Ms Nancy Lalhmangaihzuali, 24, who is from India, takes her out for a 30-minute exercise session.
"I think she likes going out because staying at home for the whole day can be very boring," said Madam Yeo.
"She also enjoys it when her friends visit her occasionally to play cards and keep her company."
When told that the bus driver had been jailed for the accident, Madam Ting remained expressionless.
Madam Yeo said her mother "was resigned to her fate".
Madam Ting then said with a sigh: "The family has forgiven him, so forget about it.
"There's no point getting angry or upset. I'm already in this state."
I feel very helpless since I can no longer go anywhere myself.
- Madam Ting Lang Kin
He drove off while she was alighting
In his haste, he drove off with the exit door of his bus still open, without checking whether there were passengers still alighting from the bus.
When the bus moved off, Madam Ting Lang Kin, who still had one foot on the bus step, fell.
The left rear tyre of the bus ran over her left foot, which was so badly crushed that part of it had to be amputated that day.
SMRT bus driver Lau Pik Choong, 53, was yesterday jailed for a week and disqualified from driving for 18 months after pleading guilty to one count of causing grievous hurt by performing a negligent act.
On April 3 last year, at around 1pm, Lau, a Malaysian with Singapore permanent residency, was driving bus service 913 along Woodlands Centre Road towards Admiralty Road.
Madam Ting pressed the buzzer and remained in her seat until the bus stopped, and then she got up and walked towards the rear exit. She walked slowly because of her age.
Before she could reach the exit, Lau closed the doors, prompting another passenger to press the buzzer.
Lau opened the doors again, but as Madam Ting was stepping out, he drove off.
At that time, she still had one foot on the last step of the bus.
Madam Ting fell and the bus ran over her left leg.
Lau became aware of his mistake only after other passengers shouted at him. He immediately stopped the bus.
Assistant Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok said Madam Ting's left leg was pinned under the tyre and Lau had to reverse the bus slowly to free her trapped leg.
Part of her left foot had to be amputated. She was discharged on May 21 last year.
APP Kok urged the court to jail Lau for one to two weeks and disqualify him from driving for two years.
He told District Judge Eddy Tham that Lau had been grossly negligent and had failed miserably in his duties as a bus driver.
Pleading for another chance, Lau, who did not have a lawyer, said he was very upset with himself for causing pain to Madam Ting.
Responding to queries from The New Paper, Mr Patrick Nathan, SMRT's vice-president of corporate information and communications, said that Lau had been suspended from all driving duties since the incident.
He said: "All bus captains are reminded to put the safety of commuters first. Safe driving reminders include allowing sufficient time for commuters to board and alight, as well as checking to ensure all commuters have alighted before closing the door and moving off."
For causing grievous hurt by performing a negligent act, Lau could have been jailed up to two years and fined up to $5,000.