Woman killed by a falling tree in Marsiling Park

Ms Loke Xiao Li, a senior technical coordinator at Channel NewsAsia, was killed after a tree fell on her in Marsiling Park on the morning of 18 February 2021. A loud crack was heard before the tree fell and pinned the 38-year-old woman under it. About 10 passersby tried to lift the tree but were unsuccessful. Singapore Civil Defence Officers arrived later and used cutting equipment to extricate her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic.

The tree was reportedly said to be a 20m-tall Araucaria excelsa tree with a girth of 1.3m. It was about 20 years old and was found to be healthy when it was inspected in April 2020. It was due for next inspection in October this year. The incident was truly an unfortunate one.

Although the annual number of tree-falling incidents in Singapore had fallen from about 3,100 cases in 2001 to around 340 cases in 2020[1], such incidents remain an inherent risk in our garden city-state.

This is not the first case of a fatal tree-falling incident. In 2017, a 40m-tall Tembusu tree fell and fatally injured a female Indian national at Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Coroner’s Court heard that the tree had been decaying below ground level for quite some time, although it was found to be healthy and normal in its last inspection.

Our firm represented two Malaysian nationals who were involved in similar incidents. In one case, our firm represented Mr Teoh Siew Leng, who died while trying to swerve away from a low-hanging tree along the road median which encroached into the first lane of the highway. He was flung from his motorcycle and was ran over by an unknown motor vehicle. In another case, our firm represented Mr Lee Kar Choon, who was riding his motorcycle along Admiralty Road West towards his workplace when a tree branch along the road fell and caused him to be flung off his vehicle. He lapsed into a coma due to the impact and was later admitted into the hospital where he was found to have sustained serious head injuries.

Under the Parks and Trees Act (Cap 216), the National Parks Board (“NParks”) has the statutory duty to plan, design, develop, manage, and maintain public parks. They also have a duty to regularly inspect and monitor the trees in public parks and to ensure the parks are safe for public use.

Our lawyers at Hoh Law Corporation are experienced in dealing with incidents of such nature. We welcome your enquires and we endeavor to help you in your matter the best we can.

 

[1] As reported by the Straits Times in an article titled “Woman killed by falling tree in Marsling Park; last inspection by NParks in April 2020”, dated 19 February 2021 (Link: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/woman-killed-by-fallen-tree-in-woodlands)

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