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The Straits Times
December 7, 2023
Two employees of an eldercare services provider were fined $10,000 each for committing a negligent act that led to a wheelchair user’s death.
On Dec 7, Moe Thadar, 49, and Kwa Kim Seng, 67, each pleaded guilty to one count of causing the death of the victim by committing a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide.
They had failed to ensure that the brakes of 76-year-old Hassan Mohamed Karchi Arsan Osman’s wheelchair were engaged, causing his death.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jeremy Bin said at the time of the incident, Moe was a healthcare assistant working in Active Global Home and Community Care (Singapore), a company that provides eldercare services.
Kwa was a driver working at the same company.
Apart from its various eldercare services, Active Global runs senior care centres. The employees of the company would take clients to these centres in the morning, facilitate meals and activities for the clients, and subsequently take them home in the evening.
Moe and Kwa both worked for an Active Global senior care centre located in Ghim Moh Link.
On Feb 3, 2021, at around 4.40pm, the duo were helping elderly clients board the van at the centre’s pick-up point, in order to take them home. Mr Hassan was the second client to board the van via the vehicle’s lift.
After the first client boarded the van successfully, Moe wheeled Mr Hassan from the pick-up point onto the platform of the lift.
At this point, Moe failed to engage the brakes of the victim’s wheelchair. Moe then walked away, intending to push the next client to the lift.
As Moe was walking away, she told Kwa that Mr Hassan was ready to be lifted, and that Kwa should hold on to the wheelchair.
Kwa also failed to ensure that the brakes of the victim’s wheelchair were engaged at that point. He raised the platform, holding on to the victim’s wheelchair with one hand with a loose grip, while operating the lift’s controls with the other hand.
As the platform was reaching the top of the lift, in line with the floor of the van, Kwa released his grip from the wheelchair without waiting for another healthcare assistant who was inside the van to hold on to it.
The wheelchair rolled backwards and fell off the platform. As a result, the back of Mr Hassan’s head struck the ground.
Mr Hassan was unconscious and bleeding from the back of his head when he was taken to National University Hospital. He was pronounced dead that same day.
An autopsy report certified that the cause of Mr Hassan’s death was a head injury, and that he was otherwise in relatively good health.
DPP Bin said that according to tests conducted by the Health Sciences Authority, the wheelchair would not have rolled off the platform if even just one wheel of the victim’s wheelchair had been locked.
In his submissions, the DPP said: “(Mr Hassan’s) family had placed him under the care of Active Global in order for him to age gracefully, spending his time socialising with friends in a safe environment where his needs were cared for.
“His tragic death was entirely preventable, and was significantly contributed to by the carelessness of both accused persons – carelessness by the very people in charge of his safety.”
For causing death by performing a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, an offender can be jailed for up to two years, fined, or both.