Fall from AMK flat: Mother blames herself for daughter's death
Girl, 6, who fell to her death from 11th-storey flat, had been alone at home for more than five hours
As the body of little Christina Goh lay at Mandai Crematorium on Wednesday evening, her mother was inconsolable.
She wept as she blamed herself for leaving her daughter at home alone for more than five hours on Tuesday while she attended a class.
Neighbours saw the six-year-old by an open window of an 11th-storey flat at Block 637 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 screaming, "Daddy! Daddy!", several times.
Her body was later found at the foot of the block.
Choking up as she spoke to Chinese-language evening daily Lianhe Wanbao after the cremation, the mother, 40, reproached herself with "should" and "if only".
Wanting to be known only as Mrs Goh, she said she rarely left Christina at home alone, and she could not stop blaming herself for forgetting to lock the windows that fateful day.
"I should have first called home after class to comfort my daughter (about leaving her alone at home). If only I had done that, or reached home 10 minutes earlier, maybe nothing would have happened to her," she said.
Mrs Goh, who is studying for a nursing diploma at Nanyang Polytechnic, said she usually placed Christina at a childcare centre when she had classes.
But on Tuesday, the centre was open for only half a day, so she left Christina at home when she left at noon for the poly, which is about a 10-minute walk away.
Her husband was at work as usual and her eight-year-old son had gone to a student care centre after school.
Mrs Goh hurried home after her lessons ended at about 5pm. But when she entered the flat, Christina was nowhere in sight and the kitchen windows were open. When she looked down, she saw Christina lying on the ground, as paramedics tried to resuscitate her.
Mrs Goh rushed downstairs and saw that Christina's nose and mouth were bleeding.
"I touched her little hand and her back, and I could still feel the warmth of her body," she told Wanbao. "I kept asking the paramedics why they weren't taking her to the hospital, they said my daughter no longer had a heartbeat."
After Mrs Goh's husband heard about the tragedy, he rushed to the scene, where the police took the parents' statements separately.
'MY MIND WENT BLANK'
Madam Ruby Arun, 33, who lives in an eighth-storey flat in the opposite block, said she heard a loud thud from the kitchen and was shocked to see the girl's body on the ground.
"My mind went blank. I didn't know what to do next," she told The New Paper on Wednesday.
The housewife, who has young children, then called her uncle over and they shouted to other neighbours for help.
The police, who were alerted at 5.40pm, have classified the case as an unnatural death and investigations are ongoing.
Mrs Goh told Wanbao that she had quit her job as a waitress to take up the nursing course in April in the hope of getting a better-paying job to provide for her children.
As the family finances were tight, she was not always able to buy what her children wanted to eat, and she could only take them to public playgrounds on weekends.
"I always felt guilty about that. I thought I could make her life better after three years (of study), but she could not wait for that day."
Mrs Goh said her daughter was the life of the family and everyone who met her loved her.
Christina took ballet and wushu classes and was cheerful and filial, often sharing food with her, she added.
Now that her daughter is gone, Mrs Goh said she will be haunted by memories of their short time together.
The family do not rule out moving out of their home and are worried whether they can move on from the tragedy, Mrs Goh said.
About 10 people, including her parents, brother and grandmother, were at the crematorium to bid farewell to Christina.
When reporters went to their flat yesterday evening, the couple and their son returned home at around 8pm but declined to be interviewed.
About 20 minutes later, five women turned up and knocked on the door of the flat, but there was no response. They, too, declined to comment.
- ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DANIEL BURGESS
Previous cases of children falling to their deaths
A five-year-old boy fell eight storeys to his death from an office building in Woodlands after his parents inadvertently left him there asleep when they went home after doing some work in their education centre. The boy, who had been left alone for just 10 minutes, is believed to have fallen from a window while trying to escape from the locked centre after waking up.
A four-year-old boy, who was left alone with his younger sister in a ninth-storey flat in Yishun Ring Road, fell to his death from a window. The New Paper reported that the window did not have grilles. The sibling were asleep when their mother left the flat in the morning.