Sunday, 1 October 2023

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American motorist sentenced to 10 weeks in jail for fatal pedestrian collision

SINGAPORE — On Tuesday (4 Jul), a 55-year-old American motorist named Andrew Charles Vasko was handed a 10-week jail sentence and a five-year disqualification from driving after causing the death of a pedestrian in a 2019 accident on Shenton Way.

Vasko, a Singapore permanent resident, was convicted in June of causing death by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide. He intends to appeal against both his conviction and sentence.

According to District Judge Shawn Ho, Vasko failed to keep a proper lookout when making a right turn, leading to the fatal collision with Madam Salinah Mohamed, a 40-year-old off-duty police officer and mother of three. She suffered multiple injuries, including a severe head injury, and passed away four days later.

On the night of 10 February 2019, Vasko stopped at a traffic light junction on Maxwell Road before making a discretionary right turn when the light turned green.

However, he did not see Madam Salinah, who was crossing the road with a green pedestrian signal in her favour. The impact flung her to the left side of the road.

Although Vasko admitted to drinking two glasses of white wine at Sentosa earlier that night, he passed a breathalyser test and was found to be driving within the speed limit.

Defence lawyers Remy Choo Zheng Xi and Carol Yuen argued that Vasko was not negligent, attributing the accident to insufficient lighting and a distracting motorcyclist who overtook him.

They also claimed that Madam Salinah was crossing the road while the green man was flashing, which they argued contributed to the collision.

However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Fernandez countered this, stating that Vasko had a duty to observe pedestrians and proceed with due regard for their safety.

She said his failure to keep a proper lookout and give way to Madam Salinah, who had the right of way, was a clear demonstration of his negligence.

The prosecution sought a jail term of four to six months, arguing that Vasko paid “absolutely no attention” to whether pedestrians were crossing and did not take any evasive action.

Meanwhile, Mr Choo, defending, sought an S$8,000 fine and noted Vasko’s remorse. He said Vasko immediately rushed to Madam Salinah’s aid and instructed passers-by to “form a shield” around her to prevent further harm until the ambulance arrived.

Vasko intends to appeal against both his conviction and sentence.

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