Singapore

Boy, 12, drowns off East Coast Park

Housewife rescues three other schoolboys who were struggling in water

She was playing with her eight-year-old daughter on a sand dune at East Coast Park yesterday when she heard cries for help.

Australian Silvia Hajas, 47, a housewife, ran towards the shore when she saw several boys struggling in the water.

She told The New Paper: "There were about seven boys 50m from shore.

"Three managed to swim back while four seemed to have more trouble staying afloat."

She dived into the water and swam towards the four struggling boys and pulled one to safety before returning to save another one.

EXHAUSTED

Madam Hajas said: "I was exhausted after saving the second boy, and I told the two remaining boys to lie on their backs so they would float."

By this time, a man had come to help and the duo used a life buoy to save one of of them.

When Madam Hajas turned around, the last boy, who was not wearing a T-shirt, had disappeared.

Madam Hajas, who revealed she had previously taken part in a triathlon there, said: "That sea is very harsh and deep.

Boy, 12, drowns off East Coast Park
The mother (lying on the ground) of the drowned boy faints after identifying his body. TNP PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG

"My feet couldn't touch the ground. If you don't know how to swim, you wouldn't know how to react in those waters and those boys looked like they were in shock."

After a three-hour search, the body of the boy was found by Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Dart).

Muhammad Suhaimi Sabastian, 12, was pronounced dead at the scene at around 3.30pm.

Housewife Silvia Hajas at the scene.TNP PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG

The SCDF was alerted to the incident at 12.25pm.

When TNP arrived at 1.50pm, a beach area about the size of a football field near Xtreme Skate Park had been cordoned off.

An ambulance, a fire engine, a Red Rhino, a fire bike and an SCDF support vehicle were at the scene while a Rapid Response Fire Vessel was out at sea conducting a search.

About seven lower secondary schoolboys wearing Jurongville Secondary's uniform were spotted in the cordoned-off area.

The school's vice-principal, Ms Elaine Tan, said in a statement that the school was deeply saddened by the incident.

She said: "It was reported to us that he (Suhaimi) had visited East Coast Park with a group of friends for a swim, after taking his examination paper this morning."

She added that school leaders, staff members and counsellors were providing emotional support and assistance to the family, affected students and colleagues.

A woman believed to be the boy's mother was escorted to a blue tent to identify the body, where she sank to her knees and fainted.

The other schoolboys were seen consoling and putting their arms around each other.

One of Suhaimi's classmates, who declined to be named, told TNP they had a design and technology exam in the morning, with their final paper, science, scheduled today.

A man, who said he was Suhaimi's uncle, told reporters he was the youngest of three sons but declined to comment further.

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