Singapore

Hoop structure was 'already tilted' when teens began playing there

Friend of deceased says JC students were doing slam dunks at Bedok basketball court earlier

He called to tell his friends he was joining them at the basketball court and was shocked when he heard one of them had met with an accident there.

The 19-year-old who wanted to be known only as Ben told The New Paper he immediately ran to the court that was near his home, anxious to find out if his friend Mohd Ridwan was okay.

Ben, a student, said yesterday: "I was shocked when I saw him lying unconscious on the ground. One of my friends was giving him CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)."

Ridwan, 17, died after the basketball hoop structure fell on him at the basketball court near Block 18 Bedok South Road on Monday night.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it received a call for assistance at the court at about 8.45pm and took one person to Changi General Hospital, attempting to resuscitate him on the way.

He died from his injuries at the hospital, said the police, adding that investigations into the unnatural death are ongoing.

Ben said he had known Ridwan - a first-year aerospace avionics student at the Institute of Technical Education College Central - for about five years, and they have been playing at the court almost every day since with a group of friends.

On the day of the incident, Ben said he had spoken to some friends who were playing at the basketball court before he arrived.

"There were junior college students who were doing slam dunks at that side of the court and the whole structure was tilted already. One of them suggested to Ridwan that it was dangerous."

Ben added that he had not noticed anything wrong with the structure before Monday.

Chairman of East Coast Town Council Jessica Tan told TNP the equipment at the court was refurbished a little over a year ago.

She said: "We understand there will be many questions as we look into how this tragedy occurred. For now, what we know is that the concrete slabs of the basketball court were reconstructed, along with the installation of a new hoop structure, in April 2020."

"As a precaution, we are closing the affected basketball court to conduct structural checks," she added.

When TNP visited the court yesterday afternoon, there were barriers surrounding it, and the hoop structures on both sides of the court had been removed.

People who live nearby told TNP they were shocked when they learnt of the incident.

Retiree Md Noor, 61, who has been frequenting the coffee shop and hawker centre next to the court weekly for the last 40 years, said: "My grandsons play at the court nearer to my house. What if something like this happens to them?"

Another retired resident who declined to be named said the basketball court was popular among young people and they would start playing from about 6pm daily.

A family member who was at the court when TNP visited declined to comment, citing the family's grief at their sudden loss.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister and MP for East Coast GRC Heng Swee Keat said he was deeply saddened to hear about the incident, and that he visited the family and offered his condolences yesterday morning.

He added: "I heard from them about their love for their son and their pride in his achievements. Words cannot fully describe what they are going through."

DPM Heng wrote that the town council general manager had also briefed him on how they are inspecting sports and recreational structures in East Coast, and that the town council will provide updates on this.

He urged the public not to circulate videos or pictures of the incident.

Mr Neo Beng Siang, coach of professional basketball team Singapore Slingers, told TNP that he has advised those playing at public basketball courts to check the hoop structures first.

He said: "They may not be maintained well, especially the rims, because a lot of players try to dunk or try to pull the rim and it might affect the stand."

"If the structure is firm and the rim is attached with springs, it would be safer," he added.

Ben said the incident has had a major impact on his group of friends.

"We won't go back to the court to play basketball, at least not for the time being," he said. "I think none of us would be in the mood for a while."

ACCIDENTS FIRE FLOOD