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Traffic police testifies car was not speeding in fatal River Valley accident

A Traffic Police inspector testified at the coroner’s court that the car involved in the River Valley accident that killed a four-year-old girl was not speeding while making a turn.

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The car involved in the River Valley accident that resulted in the death of a four-year-old girl earlier this year was said not to be speeding while making a turn, as reported by the coroner’s court on Wednesday, 26 June.

Zara Mei Orlic died on 23 January after being struck by a car that was turning right into Institution Hill from River Valley Road.

She was transported to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) but succumbed to her injuries that evening. An autopsy report confirmed that her death was caused by a head injury consistent with a motor vehicle collision.

During the coroner’s inquest, Traffic Police Station Inspector Muhammad Firdaus Suleiman, the investigating officer, presented findings from the investigation report.

The court heard that Zara’s parents had instructed their maid to take a route that did not require her to “jaywalk” at Institution Hill, but the maid did not follow this instruction.

Coroner Eddy Tham inquired if Zara was crossing at a legal pedestrian crossing. Mr Firdaus confirmed there were no signs prohibiting pedestrian crossing at that location.

Zara’s parents, represented by lawyer Alfred Lim, were present in court, as were the lawyers for the driver. The family, including Zara’s two sisters, lived in a condominium along Institution Hill known as Aspen Heights.

Institution Hill is a single-lane, two-way road leading from River Valley Road. At the scene of the accident, several cars were waiting to turn from Institution Hill to River Valley Road.

Mr Firdaus stated that the maid, employed by the family since October 2023, was tasked with fetching the two younger children from school while the eldest took a school bus.

On the day of the accident, she was walking Zara and her younger sister home from a preschool along River Valley Road, about ten minutes from their home.

The maid admitted to not holding Zara’s hand, describing her as an “independent child” who walked ahead. Mr Firdaus noted that the maid had been instructed to use the signalised pedestrian crossing closer to Institution Hill, avoiding the need to cross at Institution Hill, which lacks signalised pedestrian crossings. Instead, the maid used a crossing nearer to the preschool, necessitating the crossing at Institution Hill.

Zara’s parents were unaware of why the maid deviated from their instructions that day, though Mr Firdaus mentioned that the maid frequently used this particular route.

The accident occurred at 4.57 pm, and the police received a call about it shortly thereafter. The driver, a 40-year-old woman, was on her way home after picking up her children. As she turned right into Institution Hill, Zara ran across the front of her car, which struck and ran over her before stopping.

According to Mr Firdaus, the driver stated she did not notice Zara until the impact. She heard a scream, checked her rearview mirror, and realised she had hit someone. She stopped and rushed to Zara, who was lying motionless on the road. The driver stayed at the scene until authorities arrived. Zara was taken to SGH, where she later died, and the maid was treated for trauma.

Mr Firdaus testified that in-car camera footage from the driver’s car showed Zara crossing between two stationary vehicles when she was hit. The footage revealed that Zara appeared on the camera for only around one second before the collision. Coroner Tham asked if the driver’s view of Zara was obstructed by the waiting vehicles, to which Mr Firdaus confirmed it was.

Mr Lim questioned how far the maid was from Zara at the time of the accident. Mr Firdaus responded that the maid was about three steps, or approximately one meter, behind Zara. The weather was fine, and the road surface was dry.

Firdaus noted that when the collision occurred, the car was not travelling at a fast speed.

The speed limit in Singapore is 50 km/h unless stated otherwise, and there were no speed limits specified on the stretch of road other than warning signs to slow down, which typically reduce the speed limit to 40 km/h. However, local media did not report the car’s specific speed.

A car travelling at 50 km/h requires a stopping distance of 20 meters.

Mr Lim also inquired if the driver was distracted, suggesting she could have been using her phone or talking to passengers. Mr Firdaus responded that investigations showed the driver was not distracted.

Regarding potential prosecution against the driver or the maid, Mr Firdaus stated this would be determined by the Attorney-General’s Chambers after the coroner’s inquiry.

When asked for the driver’s full name, Mr Firdaus referred to her only as the “involved party.”

Coroner Tham will deliver the findings on 5 July.

According to the Straits Times, the domestic worker is still working for the family.

Gutzy’s correspondent visited the location and noted that there had been no modification of the road.

Ms Joan Pereira, the Member of Parliament for the area, was earlier quoted by TODAY in its report about the fatal accident, as saying that she has relayed feedback and suggestions from residents, who have asked for speed humps or regulating strips along the stretch of road, to the authorities.

“Given that the topography of River Valley Road is winding in nature, over the years the LTA [Land Transport Authority] has taken action to install additional traffic lights at several spots to deal with the blind spots,” she said.

“For some of the winding and sloping roads like Institution Hill that branch out from River Valley Road, the authorities have been assessing the feasibility of installing speed humps or regulating strips.”

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Last edited 11 days ago by Blankslate

Why isn’t the investigating officer not revealing the speed of the car? I still will place responsibility on the driver as she has full knowledge that it is a “school area.” and should be in double defence driving mode. No excuse for killing a child. Perhaps a knockdown but the severity says otherwise to me. How can your children be safe in the company of maids from the third world? They come from a different culture and background. Many are from the rural and not accustomed to city lifestyle.

Which is why it is better for you to raise your child on your own instead of relying on a potentially unreliable domestic worker. If the domestic worker decided to cross the road in a diagonal manner, instead of straight across, the two could have easily entered into the blind-spot of the driver’s vision, thus remaining invisible until the last moment. They also popped out from behind a car instead of walking further to ensure a clear view of both directions before crossing (Believe or not, there is a safe-way to cross a two-lane road). Personally, I find it appalling… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by Blankslate

The huge pink elephant in the room are unasked questions: “was the driver paying attention and keeping care behind the wheels?” ” Was the driver keeping a careful lookout on the road while driving?” After she knocked the 4 year old down, allegedly ran over the child, she apparently still did not know what had happened. How come she had no clue at all? Was the knocked down not audible to her at all? Was she paying attention at all while driving, or was she doing anything except driving? Apparently the driver had not exercised enough care or a careful… Read more »

Due to the height of a child, the driver may not be able to see the child. That’s one reason why children raise their hand when crossing road in Japan.

Singaporeans should teach their children to do the same. There are a lot of good practices in Japan that Singapore should learn.

My sincere condolences to the family of Zara. Not implying the family of Zara has done anything wrong, sometimes I find that parents have misplaced priorities. I question why parents NEVER pass a bag of gold or diamonds to the maid to care for but would happily hand the children to the maid’s care during a family outing. On one occasion, I witnessed a maid carrying a child when using the escalator while the mother was carrying some shopping bags. I found it strange that the mother would rather hold on to the bags but let the maid care for… Read more »

Invesigation not clear and vague. My comment
1) What was the speed the car traveling? 30,40,50 or higher speed?
2) The road does not have a speed limit? Meaning above 50 is still considered not at fault?
3) Heard a scream then realized that she hit someone? Hit onto something, straight away you would know you hit something. ( Unless you are traveling fast and don’t even feel the impact ) * My understanding!!
***End of the day, what I comment is my own point of view*** For the AGC to decide on the outcome!!
We shall wait and see!!!!

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