Biker death inquiry: Crash caused by fallen branch

SINGAPORE - She misses her husband terribly and this coming Hari Raya will only remind her of the times they had spent together.

It will be the first time in 13 years that Madam Suriati Ibrahim, 38, will be spending the festival without him.

"My husband was the one who was always very busy preparing for the festivities. It will never be the same again," said the slim housewife as she fought back her tears.

Her husband, Certis Cisco officer Mohammad Sharani Rais, 42, was killed in a traffic accident on the East Coast Parkway (ECP) on Dec 18 last year.

In an inquiry into his death, the court heard on Monday that he was working as a Cisco outrider, escorting a 5.25m-tall piece of cargo from PSA Brani to West Camp Road in Seletar on a motorcycle when tragedy struck.

Court papers did not mention what the cargo was.

The investigating officer, Station Inspector Tay Chun Keen, said the cargo was on a trailer attached to a prime mover, driven by one Mr Jumati Joyo, 42.

Video footage of the accident presented in court on Monday showed that the prime mover was travelling along the centre lane of the ECP towards Changi Airport around 1.20am, when the cargo hit some tree branches that formed a canopy over the road.

A tree branch that was more than 3.8m long broke off and fell on the road, landing in the centre and right lanes.

A witness who was driving his car nearby, Mr Tioh Ho Chuan, 31 said in the investigation report that the branch landed in front of Mr Mohammad Sharani. The latter was unable to avoid the branch and ran over it.

Mr Tioh added that he saw the outrider losing control of his motorcycle and it skidded towards the left - straight into the path of a van driven by another Certis Cisco officer, Mr Khalid Merwan, 43.

The van ran over Mr Mohammad Sharani before coming to a stop a few metres away. Mr Khalid told the court on Monday that he stopped his vehicle, walked out and spotted his colleague stuck underneath it.


The police received a call from him at 1.24am, informing them about the accident.

The authorities arrived at the scene minutes later and extricated Mr Mohammad Sharani from the undercarriage. He suffered severe head injuries and a paramedic pronounced him dead at 1.38am.

So were there any factors that could have contributed to the branch breaking?

National Parks Board section head Qiu Wen Jie said in the investigation report that there were heavy showers in the area the day before.

The court also heard that it was "possible that the tail end of the branch sagged to a height of about 5.2 metres due to the additional weight from the downpour and sudden movements in the...wind."

Mr Jumati may have been "unaware of the transient obstruction and drove into it, causing the branch to break," said Mr Qiu.

The case has been adjourned to Aug 14.

Mr Mohammad Sharani's family members have engaged lawyer Rajan Supramaniam from Hilborne & Co, who was present in court on Monday to observe the proceedings. Speaking the The New Paper, Madam Suriati said life has been difficult since her husband's death - especially since he was the family's sole breadwinner. The couple have a 12-year-old daughter.

Madam Suriati said she was sleeping at home on Dec 18 last year when she received a phone call from one of her brothers-in-law, informing her about the tragedy. She added: "I guess the caller must have called my brother-in-law first as he or she could not find my name in my husband's phone. I burst into tears and rushed down to my in-laws' place for support."

Madam Suriati and her daughter are now living with her parents in Jurong East.

Said Madam Suriati sadly: "My husband's death came so suddenly... I miss him so much."

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