Cardboard auntie, 78, killed by reversing taxi at carpark
Elderly cardboard collector killed in freak accident in Bedok North carpark
Despite her advanced age and having money, she insisted on collecting cardboard.
So much so that she had been a familiar sight in her neighbourhood for more than 20 years.
But tragedy struck yesterday afternoon when Madam Poh Ah Gin, 78, was looking for cardboard behind a coffee shop at Block 123 next to an open-air carpark at Bedok North Street 2.
A Comfort taxi trying to reverse into a parking space suddenly mounted the kerb at high speed and rammed into her.
She died at the scene despite attempts to save her by doctors from a nearby clinic, a witness told The New Paper.
Madam Ismail Meera, 64, said she immediately ran out of her shop when she heard the shrill of a car alarm.
She noticed that a blue taxi had hit vehicles on the other side of the carpark. The impact was so great that the vehicles had mounted the kerb and other hit vehicles behind them.
When she had a closer look, she realised that two people were trying to resuscitate the elderly woman lying in a pool of blood on the walkway.
That was when Madam Meera recognised her as the neighbourhood's cardboard collector.
"People started to crowd around her within seconds. When I went closer, I saw two women who looked like doctors from a nearby clinic attending to her," she said.
Madam Meera, who owns a nearby Internet cafe, saw one of them performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, while the other put an oxygen mask on Madam Poh.
She then ran back to her cafe to check on it before going out again about 10 minutes later.
By then, Madam Poh had died.
Another witness, Madam Rohana Ramlan, 28, was outside her shop when she saw the accident.
Describing it as horrifying, the owner of Atok Mart provision shop said: "I heard a bang and saw that the taxi had mounted the kerb.
"After that, he lurched back and forth at a high speed twice before hitting cars in the lots opposite his."
Then she saw Madam Poh on the ground and the taxi driver out of his cab, wobbling to the side of the road.
"His face was pale and he looked very shaken," said Madam Rohana.
Mr Lim Kah Hong, a 35-year-old tow truck driver, told The Straits Times Online that he ran towards the taxi after hearing a deafening screech, followed by a crash.
"I shouted at the taxi driver to stop because I realised he had hit the woman. But his car continued to lunge back and forth, and he hit her again," he said.
He said he instinctively reached out to open the taxi door and grab its key, but was unable to do so as the taxi was moving at a high speed.
Madam Poh's younger sister (photo) told TNP that Madam Poh had money but stubbornly insisted on collecting cardboard.
"She lives alone so my brother and I take turns to check on her and buy her food," she said.
Her brother revealed that Madam Poh was the third of 11 children.
Madam Wee Goh Lian, 80, said that since she moved into the neighbourhood more than 20 years ago, she had seen Madam Poh collecting cardboard.
"She was a very quiet person and kept to herself. There was one time when I told her not to dirty the void deck with her cardboard. She listened to me and never did it again," Madam Wee said.
Other residents said that Madam Poh was well-known in the neighbourhood for "not only collecting cardboard but keeping the neighbourhood clean as well".
Madam Wee said: "I will miss her. It will feel unusual to not see her around any more."
A Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said they was alerted to the accident at 3.50pm and sent an ambulance. Madam Poh was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.
Police said they had arrested a 64-year-old taxi driver for causing death by a negligent act.
Investigations are ongoing.
'My dad sounded terrified when he called me about crash'
TRAGIC: (Above) Relatives of the victim at the crash site. (Below) The taxi driver (in white shirt) being led away by the police. TNP PHOTOS: CHOO CHWEE HUA
The cabby's son said his father was about to end his shift and hand over the taxi, a Hyundai Sonata, to the next driver when the accident happened.
"My father told me that he was trying to park his cab when it surged backwards, mounted the kerb and hit the woman. He then switched gears and the cab rushed forward and hit the vehicles in front," said the 27-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Sam.
"Almost every day, my father parks at the same stretch of parking lots so the fact that he hit someone really shocked him.
"He repeatedly told me that there was something wrong with the cab, but there's nothing we can do about it now. We just have to wait for further instructions from the police."
He described his father as an experienced driver who did not have any traffic offences.
"When he called to inform me about the accident at about 4pm, he sounded so terrified over the phone," he said.
"It was the first time in my life that I've ever heard my father's voice all choked up."
MORE ELDERLY PEDESTRIANS HURT IN 2015
The death yesterday of the 78-year-old cardboard collector in Bedok came just slightly more than a month after another cardboard picker suffered the same fate.
Madam Tan Powi Kim, 62, died on Feb 20 after a car hit her as she was loading a lorry with cardboard boxes at Collyer Quay.
In November 2014, Madam Ching Guan Eng, 86, also a cardboard collector, died when she was run over after walking into the blind spot of a bus in Marsiling Lane.
Elderly pedestrians as a whole remain vulnerable on the roads.
Traffic Police figures show an increase in injuries involving pedestrians aged 60 and above last year.
There were 211 reported cases, which is 17 more that 2014's 194 cases.
Over a quarter of the injured had been jaywalking.
During the same period, the number of elderly pedestrians killed in traffic accidents dropped by 11.5 per cent, from 26 in 2014 to 23 last year.
- ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF