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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Expert wraps up case on bus accident

ACCIDENT reconstruction expert Dr Michael Tay has wrapped up his evidence on the “combination of factors” that could have led Indian national Sakthivel Kuma­ravelu to fall into the path of the bus which ran over him.

Among the reasons suggested by Dr Tay were wet roads from light rains that day. Sakthivel was also taking large steps as he ran to chase after the bus. His high blood alcohol content of 217mg of ethanol per 100ml of blood meaning it would be “harder to maintain balance”.

His left hand was also holding an umbrella, preventing him from swinging his hand in a natural movement and thus affecting stability. This, as his right palm was on the bus, meant that he would have to match his movement and speed equally to that of the bus.

Dr Tay said: “If he was just running without physical contact with the bus, he would have been more stable.

“Instead, he had to follow the curved path (as the bus was ‘off-tracking’ while it made a left turn onto Race Course Road from Tekka Lane). This complicated his movement.”

The fatal accident involving Sakthivel, a 33-year-old construction worker, in Little India on Dec 8 erupted into Singapore’s worst public order disturbance in over four decades, with 49 Home Team officers injured and 23 vehicles damaged.

According to video footage shown in court yesterday, the first day of the Committee of Inquiry (COI) hearing into the riot, Sakthivel had boarded the BT & Tan private bus bound for his dormitory in Jalan Papan when it was almost full.

He was asked to get off, first by an unidentified foreign worker and then by bus timekeeper Wong Geck Woon, after he dropped his bermuda shorts on the bus.

He consented, and alighted without being “pushed or manhandled”, said Senior State Coun­sel David Khoo in his opening statement.

Sakthivel then walked along Tekka Lane towards Race Course Road, chasing after the bus after he saw that it departed. Near the junction, he placed his right palm on the side of the bus, only to trip and fall seconds later.

G. Pannir Selvam, a former Supreme Court judge appointed to chair the four-man COI panel, questioned why the driver, Lee Kim Huat, 55, had failed to notice Sakthivel, given the four cameras mounted on the bus.

Although there were four cameras on board the bus, Dr Tay said the images on the dashboard were small – measuring 4.3cm by 7.65cm per screen – and that Lee would have to look down rather than on the roads. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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