Shangri-la VP guilty of car crash at Sentosa Gateway

Chen Guangze lost control of his car at Sentosa Gateway last year.
PHOTO: The New Paper

A lapse in his attention caused nine people to be injured, but his lawyer asked that he be spared a jail term as it would be "highly crushing" if he had a criminal record.

The lawyer added that Chen Guangze, 39, the assistant vice-president of engineering at Shangri-la, had been stressed by preparations for the Trump-Kim Summit when he lost control of his car at Sentosa Gateway last year.

Yesterday, Chen, a Singaporean, pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous hurt by negligent act.

The court heard that on June 15 last year at about 3.40pm, Chen was driving along Sentosa Gateway with three colleagues in his car when he suddenly lost control, colliding with a minibus and another car in oncoming traffic.

Footage of the accident played in court yesterday showed Chen's car drifting across the lanes at a bend, straddling the double white lines before mounting the centre divider.

But the car did not stop there, and continued moving into oncoming traffic, where it crashed into a minibus and another car.

His three passengers and the five people in the minibus were injured in the crash. The two people in the other car were not taken to hospital.

The court was told that visibility was clear and the road was dry at the time.

Chen's car was damaged beyond repair, but he was still able to extricate himself without assistance.

Paramedics who arrived at the scene assessed him to be alert, and he told them he had not fainted before the collision. Chen, along with eight of the victims, were taken to hospital.

The medical report from the National University Hospital said Chen suffered a fracture on his left jaw and was discharged two days after the accident.

Three of the victims had to undergo surgery, including one of his colleagues who suffered fractures on five ribs.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Daphne Lim asked the court to impose a jail term of at least six weeks and for Chen to be disqualified from driving for three years.

But Chen's lawyer Wilson Foo said a prison sentence would be "highly crushing" as it would come with a criminal record. Mr Foo claimed his client was a family-oriented man who loved giving back to the community, and that he was facing great stress from being heavily involved in preparations for the Trump-Kim Summit that took place on June 12 last year.

He added that Chen had been feeling especially frustrated at the time, having just gone for lunch at what he thought was a food tasting invitation but turned out to be "actually just visiting friends for Hari Raya celebrations".

"My client lost control suddenly, and inexplicably, in a momentary lapse of attention," said Mr Foo.

"He expresses remorse for the pain and suffering of the victims."

Mr Foo also asked the court to consider a community-based sentence which would not come with a criminal record.

But DPP Lim said that such a sentence was not supported by any precedent.

District Judge Siva Shanmugam adjourned sentencing to Sept 3.

For causing grievous hurt by negligent act, Chen could be jailed up to two years, or fined up to $5,000, or both.

He is currently out on bail for $5,000.

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.