MasterCard employee's death by falling tree in Singapore Botanic Gardens a tragic misadventure: Coroner

Singapore Botanic Gardens accident victim identified as Radhika Angara
Radhika Angara YouTube grab

A 38-year-old woman went to attend an outdoor concert at the Singapore Botanic Gardens' Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage when suddenly a 40m tree came crashing down and that became the cause of her death. On Monday, April 30 State Coroner Marvin Bay found the death of the woman to be a tragic misadventure.

At the time of the incident, the victim, Radhika Angara, who was identified as an Indian national as well as the regional digital marketing head for Asia-Pacific at MasterCard, was with her 39-year-old French husband Jerome Rouch-Sirech and their one-year-old twins. The accident took place on February 11, 2017, that also injured the family of the deceased.

Reports said that a tree expert, Derek Yap told the court on July 18, 2017, that the tree was already decaying from inside. But inspectors could not find any signs of the rot to predict that the tree will fall down.

After the tragic incident, the 270-year-old heritage tree was examined by an expert, who stated that the tree was about 70 percent decayed at the section where it broke. Yap, who runs a private consultancy for trees and almost for a decade had been with the National Parks Board (NParks) said that the rot would have affected the tree's strength.

A senior NParks official told the court that the tree did not have the damaged trunk that was a result of the rot. But as per the deputy director of the Botanic Gardens' Arboriculture and Plant Resource, Elango Velautham the 1.5m long, 0.2m deep, 1m high and 0.3m wide hollow was the flute, which is an irregular feature of a tree. He analysed the tree after a report was made on September 29, 2016.

Unlike other heritage trees in the country this particular tree had been inspected twice in a year, as the place where it is situated known as the high human traffic area.

In the south-east Asian country several accident cases were registered after a tree branch fell suddenly on a human or on the road.

On April 28, round 20 passers-by volunteered to move a huge tree branch that suddenly falls on the road and obstructed Ganges Avenue towards Indus Road. The entire clean-up operation took almost 10 minutes. Two local residents also took control of the traffic.

Similar to Radhika's case, a falling tree branch became the cause of an 89-year-old man's death in North Bridge Road.

This article was first published on April 30, 2018