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Man whose wife, daughter died in Alexandra Canal recounts hours before accident

Man whose wife and daughter died in Alexandra Canal accident: 'A stupid accident that shouldn't have happened'

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GRIEVING: Mr Robin Poon, standing behind the portraits of his wife, Madam Cecilia Yep Lay Choo, and his daughter, Kimberly, at their wake yesterday.

His wife survived an operation for a benign brain tumour five years ago. His daughter recovered from tuberculosis four years ago.

On Sunday night, in one devastating blow, both were killed.

It was, said Mr Robin Poon, 50, a "stupid accident" that should not have happened.

His wife, Madam Cecilia Yep Lay Choo, 51, and their only child, Kimberly, 22, died when their Mercedes E250 plunged into Alexandra Canal.

"(On Sunday night), I couldn't cry because I just couldn't get myself to accept the fact that the two hours (I left them alone) made so much difference.

"Only today, I saw that it's a reality. No more miracles already," he told The New Paper yesterday, referring to his wife's and daughter's earlier health scares.

"I feel so lost," a visibly distraught Mr Poon added, in between making funeral arrangements for his wife and daughter.

Madam Yep, who was in the logistics and transportation industry, was behind the wheel when the tragedy occurred.

"It's really ridiculous because, with my wife's driving skills, this kind of thing should not have happened," said Mr Poon.

The car workshop owner recalled the series of events before the tragedy.

LUNCH

The family had lunch at Hotel Vagabond at Syed Alwi Road, followed by a foot massage, before they parted ways.

Madam Yep and Kimberly drove off to continue shopping while Mr Poon met his friends for dinner in another car.

"It's so sudden. I left them for dinner at about 6pm, and then the next minute..." he said, his voice trailing off.

"I just can't accept the fact that they were there (lying on the ground, dead)," he said.

When the police called him about the accident, he tried to prepare himself mentally for what was to come.

"I asked (the police) how bad, but they just told me to go down as soon as possible...

"I immediately tried to call my daughter and wife. But both phones were turned off. I immediately knew something was really wrong."

That night, Mr Poon could not sleep.

"I spent the whole night thinking about what had happened," he said.

He revealed that the family of three had planned a short trip to Macau over the Chinese New Year holiday.

Such family holidays are a rarity, partly because of Madam Yep's busy schedule.

"She's a super hardworking wife... She can't stop working," Mr Poon said.

As a result, the semi-retiree often travels alone. Sometimes, his "only princess" Kimberly tags along.

"She has common interests with me. I can even go on a Bangkok shopping trip with my daughter, just the two of us.

"We just go cafe-hopping and shopping. She knows I like desserts, so she would go and check (on a list of places to go to)," said Mr Poon wistfully.

He added that Kimberly was a nice and simple girl who bore no grudges.

"All her cousins love her because she bears no grudges. One of her cousins studying in Oxford is flying back from the UK tonight," Mr Poon said.

The wake is at Block 414, Woodlands Street 41, and the funeral will be held on Thursday. .

As for Mr Poon's plans after the funeral, all he said was: "I really don't know. I've got no direction at all."

Wife was skilled driver of 20 years

For the past 24 hours, Mr Robin Poon, 50, has been racking his brain for answers.

What could have caused the accident that killed his wife, Madam Cecilia Yep Lay Choo, 51, and their only child, Kimberly, 22?

How could it happen when his wife was such a skilled and experienced driver?

How could it happen when the car was in tip-top condition?

Madam Yep's silver Mercedes E250 convertible had plunged into the Alexandra Canal through a gap between a lamp post and a blindspot mirror.

Mr Poon, a car workshop owner, is confident that the three-year-old car had no mechanical fault.

"I drove the car when we went out for lunch and nothing happened," he said.

Mr Poon, who has been in the car repair business for 30 years, added: "My entire family is very much into cars. Even my wife is very interested. We are always very sensitive (to cars) and our car maintenance is always tip-top."

And he does not doubt his wife's driving skills, given her driving experience of more than 20 years.

"My wife, she's fantastic. She can even drive a lorry... She has never had an accident before."

Madam Yep works in the logistics and transportation industry.

She had been driving the Mercedes E250 on and off since the family bought it three years ago, but only started driving it regularly in recent months.

"I really don't see any reason (that the accident could have happened)," Mr Poon said.

At one point, he even suspected foul play, he confessed. But the police later told him they had ruled it out, he said.

"I think it's some 'forces' at work. It's still a mystery.

"I just want to know what actually happened, but nobody can help us," he said with an air of resignation.

Road safety expert: Bollards can prevent such accidents

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OTHER SIMILAR CASES

MAY 2000

A sub-contractor died after his Honda Accord plunged into a canal near KK Women's and Children's Hospital. The police believe that he lost control of his car while going round a bend in the road.


DECEMBER 1993

A Ford Laser plunged into the Singapore River near the junction of Boat Quay and Tew Chew Street at about 5am. The 22-year-old driver, who is believed to have lost control of his car, drowned.

MARCH 1991

A taxi driver blacked out while he was behind the wheel and drove into the Singapore River. He was rescued by a hawker who dived into the river. There were no passengers in the cab.

JUNE 1989

Five people were killed when a Toyota Corolla plunged into the Singapore River near Clarke Quay during heavy rain. The driver had been drunk, it was later heard in a coroner's inquiry.

ERP rates at some gantries on AYE, PIE to go up

Starting next month, the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) rates for three gantries on Ayer Rajah Expressway and two gantries on Pan Island Expressway will be raised.

Affected gantries on the AYE are: A set of three gantries after Jurong Town Hall towards the City.

Affected gantries on PIE are: A gantry on Adam Road and a gantry at the Mount Pleasant slip road.


PHOTOS: GOOGLE MAPS | INFOGRAPHIC BY MARIE LIM

The changes were made following the Land Transport Authority's quarterly review of traffic conditions.

The revised rates will kick in next Monday (Feb 1).

The next review will take place in May.


Past changes in ERP rates

Reduced rates for December school holidays

From Nov 21 to Dec 31, rates were lower by $1 at three gantries on AYE after Jurong Town Hall towards the City, from 7am to 8am.

The lower rates were also in effect at gantries on the southbound Central Expressway (CTE) before Braddell Road from 7am to 7.30am and the northbound CTE before the PIE from 7.30pm to 8pm, among others.

The rate reduction was $0.50 at two gantries along Dunearn Road from 8am to 8.30am, and two gantries at Bendemeer Road and Woodsville Tunnel from 7.30am to 8.30am.

Doubling of rates in early November

The rates at three gantries on AYE after Jurong Town Hall towards the City were raised on Nov 2.

It became $2 instead of $1 from 6pm to 6.30pm.

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