S'pore woman who lost husband in cycling accident worries about raising her son alone
THE NEW PAPER, FEB 23
What she remembers most from that fateful day was the blistering heat they were cycling in.
After that, things became a blur, as a pickup truck rammed into the bicycles she and her husband were riding, changing everything forever.
It happened on Feb 21, while Singaporean Jennel Ng, 39, her Chilean husband, and 16-month-old son were on a cycling trip in Northeast Thailand.
They were riding on Mittraphap Road in Bua Lai district when tragedy struck.
"I lost consciousness, and when I woke up moments later, I was in the middle of the road and all my belongings were scattered on the road.
"I also felt extreme pain in my left leg," said Madam Ng, speaking to The New Paper via Skype from her hospital bed in Thailand.
In spite of the pain, her immediate thoughts went to her son, Lukas,and her husband, Mr Francisco Villa Honotaro.
Little Lukas had been travelling in a mini carriage attached to her husband's bicycle.
Madam Ng had been riding in front of her husband, on her own bicycle.
"(After the accident happened), I saw a bystander carrying Lukas and he showed me that apart from a few bruises, my son was okay," said Madam Ng, who used to teach at Bukit Panjang Government High School.
"Next I thought, 'where is my husband?'"
It was a question she did not get an answer to until much later.
Madam Ng and her family were taken to the nearby Bua Yai Hospital, almost 400km from Bangkok.
But no one told her what had happened to her husband, increasing her anxiety.
"I thought, 'maybe he is paralysed and in a coma, that is why I haven't seen him'," she said.
But the reality was even grimmer.
"A doctor came into (my room) and told me that he died on the spot from a brain haemorrhage," said Madam Ng, who had suffered a broken fibula and ankle.
"I sort of paused and then I just cried," she said.
Her only consolation was that Lukas had emerged from the accident with only some minor bruises, thanks to the baby car seat attached securely inside the carriage pulled along by her husband.
Madam Ng, who is still recovering from her injuries at the hospital, said that the days after the accident were traumatic, and not just because of her injuries and grief.
She had to make arrangements for the funeral while fielding questions on the accident from Thai police.
Thai newspaper Bangkok Post reported that the pickup truck driver had been charged with reckless driving resulting in death and injury.
"My elderly parents wanted to come up (to Thailand), but I told them not to because I did not want to trouble them," she said.
"Various groups from all over the world and officers from the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok have come forward to show their concern and tried to give me help," she added.
A spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok rendered consular assistance to Madam Ng, and that they are in touch with her and her family.
The couple had always made plans together. The accident happened in the midst of an ambitious adventure to fulfil their dream of cycling around the world. (See report, right.)
Now, Madam Ng is steeling herself to face a very different challenge - that of raising her son on her own.
"I'm thankful for all the help that I have been given, But I'm very worried about how I'm going to be able to raise my son all alone," she said, wiping away tears.
"I know I need to find a job to ensure that I can provide Lukas with a good future, but I worry about who is going to take care of him when I go to work as I don't want to trouble my elderly parents or my siblings," she added.
Madam Ng said she will return to Singapore after her leg heals, which she estimates will take up to another month or so.
She plans to stay with her parents when she does.
"As a single parent, I know there is going to be a lot of adjustment for me. I'm just worried about whether or not he (Lukas) can still have a happy childhood," she said.
I thought, 'maybe he is paralysed and in a coma, that is why I haven't seen him'.
- Madam Jennel Ng, who had not known then that her husband had died on the spot from the impact of the crash.
I'm thankful for all the help that I have been given, But I'm very worried about how I'm going to be able to raise my son all alone.
- Madam Jennel Ng
A love that blossomed over time
She was a former teacher who quit her job in December 2011 to explore South America on her own.
He used to be a firefighter attempting to set a Guinness World Record for cycling around the world.
Their paths crossed in March 2012, but it was not love at first sight, admitted Madam Jennel Ng.
"I first met him (when I was passing through Cancun, Mexico, on my travels and while he was doing his cycling)," said Madam Ng.
"Then we went our separate ways."
Despite that, Madam Ng, 39, and the late Mr Francisco Villa Honotaro, 48, kept in touch with each other via e-mail.
"From our e-mails, he showed that he was a very nice and sincere man," said Madam Ng.
"I didn't fall in love with him just yet, but I did have some feelings for him."
Then Mr Honotaro asked her to join him on his quest to set a world record by travelling the world on two wheels in August 2012.
"At that point, I was bored of travelling alone," she said.
"I gave him a chance, because I wanted to see where this budding romance would lead us," she added.
As things turned out, their journey took them around the world.
They re-united in Mexico in August 2012 and flew to Zurich in September that year to cycle around Europe.
It was there that their romance blossomed.
In November 2013, Madam Ng gave birth to their son, Lukas.
The couple got married in April 2014.
After five months, they flew from Chile to Guangzhou, China to re-start their quest to cycle the world, this time with their baby in tow.