Little India Riot COI: Driver could not have seen victim: Scientist

The forensic scientist said the bright external lights and the wet glass on the bus could have impeded driver (left) Lee Kim Huat's vision of the victim, Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu (right). Mr Sakthivel could have tripped and fallen onto the path of the front left tyre.

LITTLE INDIA RIOT COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY

The driver of the bus that ran over Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu, sparking the Little India riot, could not have seen him running towards the bus.

That was what a forensic scientist said during the Committee of Inquiry (COI) hearing, which began on Wednesday.

A senior consultant forensic scientist at The Forensic Experts Group, Dr Michael Tay, was the first witness. He presented his accident reconstruction report to the committee, which explained why the driver, Mr Lee Kim Huat, 55, was not able to see Mr Sakthivel, 33.

Mr Sakthivel had chased after the bus after he was told to alight by Madam Wong Geck Woon, 38, a timekeeper who worked at the Singapore School Transport Association.

Video footage taken from four of the five CCTV cameras installed on the bus was played in the courtroom, with Dr Tay explaining the clips frame by frame.

He said:

1. The footage showed Mr Sakthivel "appear, disappear and reappear" beside the bus as he kept pace with its changing speeds.

But when he reappeared by the bus, he did so at an angle that was beyond the field-of-view of the left wing mirror.

2. Only the CCTV cameras mounted on the wing mirrors of the bus could capture Mr Sakthivel running towards it.

Committee Chairman G. Pannir Selvan said the driver could not have used them, as looking at the dashboard-mounted screen would mean not paying attention to the road, which was congested with people and other vehicles at the time.

3. The bright external lights and the wet glass on the bus could have impeded Mr Lee's vision of the victim.

4. Mr Sakthivel could have tripped and fallen onto the path of the front left tyre.

DRUNK

Mr Sakthivel was also drunk when he died, according to a toxicology report.

Dr Yao Yi Ju, an analyst at the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), said there was 217mg of ethanol detected in 100ml of blood.

That meant that Mr Sakthivel was moderately to severely intoxicated, which could have impaired his judgment and reaction time.

HSA pathologist, Dr Marian Wang, who performed the autopsy on Mr Sakthivel, also took the stand on Wednesday.

When asked by the COI chairman to estimate the amount of alcohol he took based on his blood alcohol level, Dr Wang said he could have consumed around two litres of beer containing 4.5 per cent alcohol.

But she said it was a theoretical calculation and could be inaccurate.

ngjunsen@sph.com.sg


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