Ex-SMRT bus driver apologises to victim's husband 4 years after accident

Click on to read the background of Madam Ding's story. A woman in her 50s who fell into a coma in 2011 after she fell and hit her head on an SMRT bus has sued the transport operator for negligence.
PHOTO: Lianhe Wanbao, Shin Min Daily News

SINGAPORE - Four years after causing an accident onboard the bus that he was driving, former SMRT driver M Ezar M Hassan apologised to the victim's husband and shook his hands.

Madam Ding Weibo was with her daughter Ding Xiao Sui onboard SMRT bus service 167 in Dec 2011 when the bus came to an abrupt halt along Orchard Road, causing Mdm Ding to lose her balance, hitting her head against a metal bar on the seat in the process.

Shin Min Daily News reported that public transport operator SMRT Corporation will bear 95 per cent of responsibility for the accident, which caused Mdm Ding to fracture her skull and lapse into a coma.

After the settlement was reached between Mdm Ding and SMRT, Ezar tried to make amends at the hearing on Nov 24. He requested to speak to Mdm Ding's husband, Mr You Bujia through a lawyer, but was hindered by the language barrier.

Determined to express his remorse, Ezar managed to meet Mr You and shook his hands apologetically, Shin Min Daily News reported.

For his part in causing the accident, Ezar was fined $4,500 in Jan 2013 and is no longer working with SMRT.

Medical expenses cost a few hundred thousand dollars

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, Mdm Ding was rushed to Singapore General Hospital in critical condition, and later lapsed into a coma for a month. Part of her skull had to be removed to relieve the swelling of her brain, Channel NewsAsia reported.

But four years after the incident, her condition has seen no improvement. Her head continues to be swollen, causing complications to her lungs and urinary tract. She also suffers from memory loss.

Mr You decided to sell his business to be a full-time caregiver for Mdm Ding. Her medical expenses so far, which cost a few hundred thousand dollars, has taken a toll on the family's finances.

Mr You noted that while he is satisfied with the outcome of the settlement, the amount has not been decided. According to the Straits Times, Mr You declined to reveal the damages he was seeking, and said that he will leave it to his lawyer. "We are still in the midst of quantifying the damages," said his lawyer, Mr Tito Isaac.

These four years of caregiving has taken a toll on Mr You's health. Mr You told Shin Min previously that he was determined to take care of Mdm Ding personally, but he has relented and may consider hiring a caretaker to help look after Mdm Ding.

grongloh@sph.com.sg

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