Pregnant woman dies after bus hits her on Bendemeer Road

Mr Nimit Shah is devastated by his wife’s death. His mother-in-law is in the background.

He stood beside the casket holding the body of his late pregnant wife.

Mr Nimit Shah, 29, was a picture of devastation - unkempt hair, untrimmed beard and bloodshot eyes from crying over the past week.

Then, he gently placed both hands on her abdomen, thinking about the happy past and what could have been the future.

"All the sweet, happy memories. There are no words, there are no words," he told The New Paper yesterday.

Last Tuesday, his wife - six months pregnant with their first child - was hit by a double-decker SBS bus near their home at the junction of Bendemeer Road and Whampoa East.

Mrs Payal Shah, 29, was walking home from the family doctor when she was hit at the bus lane at around 3pm.

BRIDGE & CROSSING

There is a pedestrian bridge about 100m away and a traffic light crossing about 200m away, but she did not use them.

But she was not jaywalking as she had crossed the road at a point where the nearest pedestrian crossing was more than 50m away.

During the crash, her head hit the front windshield and her body went under the front of the bus.

A Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said she was not trapped by the bus and was carried out on a stretcher. She was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital unconscious.

Mr Shah, an Indian national who works in IT, said: "I wanted to check what the family doctor had told her because she had complained about pain in her ears. I called her from work. No one picked up."

He tried five more times until a stranger answered and told him to go to Bendemeer Road as his wife had been in an accident.

He rushed to the scene, but Mrs Shah was no longer there.

Mr Shah then went to the hospital, where he told the doctors: "She's the priority."

The next day, the doctors told him that their child, a boy, was gone.

"Please save the mother," he begged them.

On Saturday, they told him that things did not look good for Mrs Shah. She had multiple brain injuries.

"Nothing had improved since the accident. We called doctors in other countries. They told us we could do nothing. Nothing," he said outside the funeral parlour at Geylang Bahru yesterday.

He then broke down in tears, saying: "I made a decision - the hardest decision of my life. I told doctors to turn off her life support." The couple had made grand plans for after the birth of their son, whom they wanted to raise here before sending him to be schooled in India.

A holiday in London was in the pipeline to celebrate his birth. There were also plans to buy a new home here.

They had met in an arranged marriage in 2008 in their hometown in Vadodara, in Gujarat, India.

Said Mr Shah: "She was nice, honest and trustworthy."

In 2011, they came to Singapore to work and settled into their rented home at Block 43, Bendemeer Road.

She worked as a restaurant manager before switching jobs to become a service consultant.

In May, they found out she was pregnant.

"We were just starting our life. With the child and our jobs, this were our happiest moments."

He said softly: "It's all gone now. I've been robbed of my happiness."

He plans to take his wife's body back to their hometown to be buried. "I still haven't decided what to do after that," he said.

Mr Shah said his wife did not use the overhead bridge as she would have to go a long way.

"We always crossed over there (where the accident happened), just like so many people. I didn't think it would be risky."

A police spokesman said Mrs Shah's death has been classified as unnatural and is under investigation. No one has been arrested.

She was not jaywalking, says lawyer

She was about 100m away from an overhead bridge and even farther from a pedestrian crossing when she was hit by a bus.

Was Mrs Payal Shah jaywalking?

No, said criminal lawyer Foo Cheow Ming, who added that a pedestrian is considered to be jaywalking only when he is within 50m of a pedestrian crossing or overhead bridge and fails to use it to cross a road.

"Given that she (Mrs Shah) was 100m away from a designated crossing, she would not be considered a jaywalker," he said.

The Singapore Road Safety Council vice-chairman, Mr Gopinath Menon, however, said that pedestrians should always use pedestrian crossings or overhead bridges.

"The roads are a very hostile environment and that is why there are pedestrian crossings," he said.

"Even if it means a longer walking distance, pedestrians should use them for their own safety.

Resident tried for years to fix problem

For four years from her kitchen window, she has seen people in wheelchairs, elderly folk and young children cross the road where Mrs Payal Shah was hit by a bus last Tuesday.

Madam Shameem Basheer, 29, who lives in Block 39, Bendemeer Road, has seen her share of close shaves.

The housewife told The New Paper yesterday: "A lady who was walking two dogs was nearly hit by a car at the spot last weekend. I saw it from my window. The car horn was so loud.

"Just looking from my window, I would say more than 50 people cross that road every day."

INFORMED AUTHORITIES, MP

Since 2012, she has written to the authorities and approached her Member of Parliament about the spot, close to the Bendemeer Road and Whampoa East junction.

"The replies were always the same - that there was no feasible solution to fix the issue," she said.

Residents in Blocks 38A to D, 39 and 43 cross at the spot because it is the "fastest way to Serangoon Road, where there are buses", she said.

Sometimes, she has also crossed the junction while pushing her two children, aged three and two, on a stroller.

"Not everyone can use the overhead bridge, and if we were to walk to the traffic light crossing, it's a 250m walk and it could take 20 minutes just to cross the road."

"I was scared, very scared. Something bad was bound to happen," she said.

Madam Shameem called The New Paper hotline last week to inform us about Mrs Shah's accident.

She was shocked to learn that Mrs Shah had died and was six months pregnant.

"Oh no, oh dear," she said.

When TNP visited the scene of the accident around 5pm yesterday, several people could be seen dashing across the road.

This was despite a large sign placed by the police that read "Serious Accident 21 October".

Some were cycling and jogging across, as there is a park connector on either side of the road.

There is a traffic light crossing about 200m away, but few chose that option.

A cyclist in his 60s tried to ride across from Block 43, but was too slow to make it to the other side before vehicles came zooming past.

For a minute, he was stuck in the third lane of the four-lane road and cycled against oncoming traffic even as this reporter shouted for him to be careful.

He made it across only after a bus on the fourth lane stopped to let him pass.

In the 15 minutes that TNP was there, around 20 pedestrians - a mix of old and young - crossed the junction the same way that Mrs Shah did.

ngjunsen@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 28, 2014.
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