1 week imprisonment for cyclist who caused death of 53-year-old man in S'pore in fatal collision

The cyclist had a clear view of the road, with nothing obstructing his view, but did not start to brake until the pedestrian entered his lane.

Nigel Chua | December 10, 2020, 04:28 PM

On Oct. 1, 2019, a cyclist collided into a 53-year-old man who was crossing the road, causing his death.

The cyclist, Salminen Toni Timo, 42, pleaded guilty to causing death by a negligent act and was sentenced to a week in jail on Dec. 10, The Straits Times reported.

How the accident happened

Court documents revealed the facts leading up to the fatal collision, which took place near the junction of Sims Avenue and Lorong 33 Geylang on the evening of Oct. 1 last year at around 6:18pm.

Screenshot from Google Maps street view.

Salminen was riding along the four-lane road on the second lane from the right.

Court documents noted that there were vehicles parked along the right-most lane at the time, but did not state why he was not riding on the left-most lane.

It is possible that Salminen intended to take a right turn onto Lorong 35 Geylang ahead.

Meanwhile, the pedestrian, Chew Fook Yew, was standing at the footpath on the left side of the road, and stepped onto the left-most lane while waiting for the road to be clear of traffic.

According to court documents, investigations revealed that Chew was more than 50 metres away from the nearest pedestrian crossing, and was not in a "No Pedestrian Crossing" zone.

Did not notice Chew walking into the lane

Salminen's account of what happened next, as captured in the official statement of facts, is that Salminen noticed Chew step onto the road. At this point, the two were 40 to 50 metres away from each other.

Salminen also saw Chew "walking briskly" onto the third lane from the right, while he was still cycling on the second lane.

He did not apply his brakes to slow down at this point.

At the same time, a female pedestrian standing on the right-most lane was waiting to cross the road, but stepped back towards the parked vehicles on the right side of the road and walked away.

Salminen continued to cycle forward, failing to notice that Chew was walking into his lane ahead of him.

When Salminen saw Chew in front of him on the second lane, he rang his bell and jammed his brakes.

Chew turned towards Salminen after the bell was rung.

However, Salminen was unable to stop in time and collided into Chew, causing Chew to fall backwards onto the road, while Salminen was flung off his bicycle.

Chew lay motionless on the road while Salminen attended to him and a passer-by called for an ambulance.

Salminen waited at the accident scene till the ambulance arrived, and left the scene later. He also lodged a police report on the accident at 7:08pm on the same day.

Following an autopsy, Chew was found to have died of head injuries consistent with those sustained in a road traffic accident.

Charge and sentence

Salminen was charged with causing death by negligent act, under Section 304A(b) of the Penal Code.

Deputy Public Prosector Rimplejit Kaur acknowledged mitigating factors in Salminen's favour, such as the fact that he had a clean record, assisted Chew after the collision, and pleaded guilty to the charge.

She sought a sentence of at least three weeks' imprisonment however, highlighting the fact that Salminen had a clear view of Chew crossing the road, with nothing obstructing his view.

The prosecutor added that "this is not a case where the deceased suddenly dashed onto the road, suddenly appeared onto the road from an obscured position, suddenly stopped while crossing the road, suddenly turned back while crossing the road, hesitated or lingered while crossing the road or suddenly bent down to pick up something while crossing the road."

Also, despite his admission that he saw Chew on the road, Salminen did not apply his brakes or slow down until Chew was already in his lane.

In her submissions on sentencing, Kaur also pointed out that all drivers or riders on public roads are "expected to drive / ride within speed limits, to respect traffic signals and keep a proper lookout of pedestrians".

She argued that the fact that Salminen was riding a bicycle should not be over-emphasised, so as to avoid creating an impression that driving or riding a smaller vehicle relieves drivers and riders from "their normal obligations".

Those convicted of causing death by negligent act face a maximum penalty of a fine, imprisonment for up to two years, or both.

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Top photo by Nigel Chua