Lorry driver failed to keep proper lookout, leading to crash that killed two workers on PIE

Osmond Chia
The Straits Times

October 13, 2021

The lorry driver spotted the tipper truck parked on the road shoulder only when his vehicle was five lorry lengths away. By then, it was too late and his lorry crashed into the right rear of the truck, the court heard during a coroner's inquiry on Wednesday (Oct 13).

All 17 workers sitting in the back of the lorry at the time of the accident on April 20 this year were taken to hospital and two later died from multiple injuries.

Mr Toffazal Hossain, 33, from Bangladesh, had to be freed from the wreckage and was rushed to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Mr Sugunan Sudheeshmon, 28, from India, who was also trapped, had to to be extricated with hydraulic equipment and was taken to National University Hospital, where he later died.

During the one-day inquiry, senior investigating officer Raziz Tahar told the court that the 36-year-old lorry driver was set to exit the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) to pick up his supervisor at Jalan Bahar.

The driver's name was not given in court.

The court heard that the driver of the tipper truck had stopped his vehicle on the road shoulder after he heard the sound of a tyre burst. He turned on his hazard lights, clambered down and saw his rear inner left tyre was punctured.

Mr Raziz noted that the road shoulder was narrower than the width of the tipper truck, which jutted out to occupy the fifth lane of the expressway.

Mr Raziz said: "The (lorry) driver failed to keep a proper lookout and hit the truck which was stationary on the road shoulder. It was captured by party's (lorry's in-car) camera, where the truck was partially occupying lane five."

Police were alerted to the accident on the PIE towards Changi Airport before the Jalan Bahar exit at 6.06am.

Mr Raziz said the 17 workers - all employed by Bright Asia Construction - were seated at the back of the lorry, with Mr Sugunan and Mr Toffazal on the floor directly behind the driver's cabin where the impact was strongest.

The court heard that paramedics took 30 minutes to free Mr Toffazal after the collision.

Mr Raziz said that Mr Sugunan was breathing irregularly and making gurgling sounds. He was treated extensively in hospital, where he fought for his life but eventually succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 10.40pm.

"He was admitted to the intensive care unit after operation but was unresponsive, his health deteriorated despite maximum therapy," said Mr Raziz.

The Straits Times reported in April that Mr Sugunan had a wife and an 18-month-old child, while Mr Toffazal was also married with a two-year-old son.

Senior investigator Raziz said at the inquiry that there was no evidence of foul play.

State Coroner Adam Nakhoda will deliver his findings on Oct 20.

The Straits Times

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