Kindergarten pupil leaves ICU after car accident

Six-year-old Koh Jia Yang, who was described to be a mischievous and talkative boy, has not been able to speak much after he was hit by a car on Monday.
PHOTO: Don Koh

This could have turned out so wrong.

But whatever you call it - the work of a higher power, providence or even luck - kindergarten pupil Koh Jia Yang, six, survived after being hit by a car at Henderson Road on Monday evening.

And because of that, his parents are feeling a tremendous amount of relief.

Jia Yang's dad, Mr Don Koh, 37, who is self-employed, said initially things did not look good.

He told The New Paper on Wednesday evening: "He was bleeding from the mouth when I saw him and I was so worried that he might have internal bleeding.

"I didn't even dare to tell my wife how serious it was at first."

His wife, Madam Miko Zheng, 34, a beautician, said: "There were so many tubes connected to him... He is usually so talkative and it breaks my heart to see him so quiet now.

"But I'm just glad that he woke up and can eat a little now."

On Monday at about 5pm, Madam Zheng received a call at work from the student care centre. Her son had dashed across the road while chasing after his friends and was knocked down by a car.

Jia Yang's sisters, aged seven and eight, tried to warn him but it was too late.

Mr Koh was buying dinner nearby when his wife called him, and he got there in time to accompany an unconscious Jia Yang to the National University Hospital in an ambulance.

Jia Yang spent two days in the paediatric intensive care unit and regained consciousness on Wednesday morning.

He is recovering in a normal ward with injuries to his jaw and head.

Mr Koh said his son has not spoken since the incident.

"But when I asked him if he would ever dare to run across the road again, he shook his head and cried."

Jia Yang's grandmother would usually pick them up from the student care centre but she had a medical check-up that day.

Mr Koh was going to pick them up that evening but his daughters had tuition and wanted to head home earlier on their own.

He and his wife said they would not allow their children to cross the road on their own in future.

Mr Koh said: "I hope this incident will also be a lesson for them, on how dangerous the roads can be."

Police are investigating.

Younger children should be accompanied

Road safety experts said that young children are especially vulnerable on the roads.

Mr Gerard Pereira, operations manager at the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, said: "They have smaller builds, so drivers may find it more difficult to spot them.

"It is just as dangerous at traffic crossings or roads at housing estates where the speed limits are slower."

He feels that upper primary school pupils, who have gone through road safety lessons in schools, might be better equipped to navigate roads on their own.

"Most upper primary pupils would have gone on excursions to The Road Safety Community Park (at East Coast Park) where they are taught road safety skills in a mock traffic environment," he said.

Besides lacking an understanding of the dangers of roads, younger children can also be more impulsive when it comes to crossing the road, said Mr Gopinath Menon, an adjunct associate professor at Nanyang Technological University with a research interest in road safety.

"It's better that a child in kindergarten is accompanied by an adult or an older child," he said.

By the numbers

280

The average number of children involved in traffic accidents every year, according to Mr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, former Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Transport.


This article was first published on Oct 23, 2015.
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