Thursday, October 02, 2014

$20,000: Singapore Airlines pilot fined over Canterbury crash

A Singapore Airlines pilot has been ordered to pay $20,000 in emotional harm payments to two of his colleagues injured in a serious road crash in Canterbury last week. 

Benjamin Yonghao Wu, 32, was also disqualified from driving for 18 months after admitting two charges of reckless driving causing injury.

The foreign driver had rented a vehicle and was partway through a Lord of the Rings road trip with four colleagues last week when he ran a stop sign on the outskirts of Christchurch, at the intersection of Weedons Ross Rd and Maddisons Rd.

The Toyota ran directly into the path of a 4WD towing a horse float, which had been obscured from view by a shelterbelt and had no option but to plough into the side of the car at around 80km/h.

Two of the Singapore Airlines staff received serious injuries and had to be cut from the vehicle before being rushed into emergency surgery.

Chief steward Chew Weng Wai suffered significant brain injuries and internal bleeding, while steward Vanessa Leonara Savio Coehlo fractured her arm and shattered her pelvis, also injuring her spleen and bladder.

The two other passengers were unhurt and have since returned home.

Appearing before the Christchurch District Court for sentencing today, Wu stood with his head bowed and nodded periodically as Judge Stephen O'Driscoll imposed the penalty.

Wu's lawyer, Kerry Cook, told of the court of his client's "incredible remorse", saying he had apologized to the victims and their families for the "tragic unintended consequences".

The pilot was unfamiliar with the roads and saw the stop sign too late, he said. In a split second, he decided not to brake heavily to avoid discomfort for his passengers, and entered the intersection.

"This is an unintentional error at the lower end with unforeseen and significant consequences," Mr Cook said. "He is significantly upset and distraught at the harm [he has caused]."

Mr Cook said Wu had already paid $15,000 into the court's trust account for reparations, having taken out a loan to help the victims as much as he could. He had also admitted his wrongdoing at an early stage, admitting his guilt to emergency services as he helped others at the scene.

Judge O'Driscoll said both victims had months of rehabilitation ahead and would bear scars "for a long time".

"You were not concentrating on the road signs and it was a lapse of concentration on your part that has consequences for those in your car," he said.

"Whatever the reason [for the lapse], you did not keep the high degree of vigilance that is necessary for all motorists on our roads.

"You failed to obey a simple road rule and that is to stop at a compulsory stop."

Mr Cook confirmed Wu would be pay the remaining $5000 reparation as soon possible, on top of the $15000 already paid into the court trust.

Read more:

Benjamin Yonghao Wu (3 News)

The New Zealand police have filed charges against a 32-year-old man over the car crash on Wednesday that left two Singapore Airlines (SIA) crew members seriously injured.

The suspect is believed to be a first officer with the airline. He will appear in the Christchurch District Court today, where he will be officially charged with two counts of ''reckless driving causing injury''.

"If convicted, he could be fined up to NZ$20,000 (S$20,020) and jailed a maximum of five years," said a New Zealand Canterbury police spokesman, adding that he could also be disqualified from driving in the country for a year.

The suspect was driving a Toyota car with four other SIA crew members near the town of Rolleston when it crashed into a four-wheel-drive towing a horse trailer at a cross-junction.

Two of the SIA staff, the New Zealand driver and the horse were not injured. The SIA crew members who were not hurt have since returned home, according to the New Zealand police.

But chief steward Chew Weng Wai remains in critical condition, while stewardess Vanessa Coehlo is in stable condition following surgery. Both are still in Christchurch Public Hospital.

All five SIA staff were part of the crew on Flight SQ297 that arrived in Christchurch from Singapore on Tuesday morning.

When contacted, SIA declined to comment further on its staff, citing its privacy policy.

"Our priority has not changed, which is to provide our staff and their families the highest standard of care and assistance," said an airline spokesman.

The New Zealand police are still investigating the cause of the crash.

Story, Comments, Photo:

The New Zealand police have filed charges against a 32-year-old man over the car crash on Wednesday that left two Singapore Airlines (SIA) crew members seriously injured. 

A Singapore Airlines pilot has admitted causing a high-speed crash that has left a colleague fighting for his life in hospital.

Benjamin Yonghao Wu, 32, has been charged with two counts of reckless driving causing injury after a crash with a 4WD towing a horse float at the intersection of Weedons Ross Rd and Maddisons Rd, near Rolleston, south of Christchurch on Wednesday.

The car's occupants were a group of five Singapore Airlines crew members.

Singapore Airlines chief steward Chew Weng Wai is today still in a critical condition with brain injuries in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) at Christchurch Hospital, a District Health Board spokeswoman confirmed to APNZ.

Stewardess Vanessa Leonara Savio Coehlo is in a stable condition in a general ward following surgery.

Two passengers were unhurt and have "returned home", police say.

A Singapore Airlines spokesman said today: "Our priority has not changed, which is to provide our staff and their families the highest standard of care and assistance. However, due to our privacy policy, we are unable to disclose any further details about our staff."

At Christchurch District Court today, Wu, of Singapore, appeared in the dock to plead guilty to both reckless driving causing injury charges.

Defence counsel Kerry Cook asked for sentencing to proceed today.

He said the airline had flown over the victims' families, but not the family of Wu who has been left "isolated and under stress".

He is staying at a city hotel and with "a significant amount of effort" he has brought $15,000 into New Zealand which he hopes will be offered as emotional harm compensation to the "split between the two [victims] as the court sees fit".

Police however asked for a delay in sentencing to find out the exact conditions of the two victims. Police prosecutor sergeant Glenn Pascoe said one victim "might still pass away".

Police also wanted more time to get more information from the family of victims before sentence.

Judge Jane McMeeken adjourned the case until Monday, "with a view to sentencing on that date", but warned it still might not happen on that day.

Police have Wu's passport, and he was bailed on the condition he would not drive a motor vehicle and not travel outside Christchurch.

A Singapore Airlines spokeswoman said: "Our immediate concern is for the welfare of our staff and we shall accord them and their families the highest standard of care and assistance, which is practicable."

Story and Video:

No comments:

Post a Comment