Retiree in coma after fall at Bishan MRT escalator
He fell on escalator at Bishan MRT station twice in two days
He fell at the same spot twice at Bishan MRT station.
The first time it happened last Friday, Mr Lim Chwee Leong, 64, sprained his hand while breaking his fall as he was going up the escalator at Exit D.
The next day, the retiree, who is divorced, fell again at the same escalator.
This time he hit his head and was severely injured.
His son, Mr Lim Ka Hock, 46, told The New Paper yesterday that his father has been unconscious in Tan Tock Seng Hospital since the accident.
The freelance contractor said: "After the first fall, he came home and told us about it. He even said he was lucky that he didn't hit his head.
"Who would have expected him to fall again at the same place on Saturday?"
His father had to undergo an emergency operation immediately after the accident to remove a blood clot in his brain.
A passer-by had seen his father fall backwards and hit his head while getting on the escalator that was going up, said Mr Lim.
He got up and continued riding the escalator. But he fainted as soon as he got off.
Mr Lim said that his father's girlfriend had informed the family about his accident. When she called his mobile phone around noon, someone at the hospital answered and told her that he had been injured.
Doctors at the hospital told the family that a blood vessel in the older Mr Lim's brain had ruptured after the accident, and a blood clot had formed.
"They said they had to operate immediately because the blood clot was putting pressure on his brain. He is relatively stable now and has been taken off the life-support machine. All we can do now is to wait for him to wake up," he said.
SELDOM LEAVES FLAT
Mr Lim said he was not sure why his father, who rarely leaves their Bishan flat, was at the MRT station.
He added that his father was taking medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. He had a heart attack 10 years ago.
"He is not very fit, especially because of his age, and might have fallen himself. What has happened has happened, and all we can do is pray that he gets well.
"To be honest, I am prepared for the worst."
He said that his siblings would be meeting the doctors today to decide on their next course of action.
Mr Lim added that doctors told them that their father could be paralysed or remain in a vegetative state.
He hopes his father's accident will remind others, especially the elderly, to be more careful when taking the escalator or stairs.
"It might be safer for people like my father to take the lift instead of the escalator as the speed might be too fast for them," he added.
Mr Lim also said that an SMRT representative had visited his dad in hospital yesterday.
Replying to TNP's queries, SMRT's vice-president for corporate information and communications, Mr Patrick Nathan, said: "We are sorry this has happened. We are in touch with the family and providing assistance as best we can. The matter is being investigated."
A police spokesman said they were alerted to the incident at 11.34am on Saturday and found a 64-year-old man with head injuries.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said the elderly man was taken unconscious in an ambulance to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
Who would have expected him to fall again at the same place on Saturday?
- Mr Lim Ka Hock, whose father, Mr Lim Chwee Leong, has been unconscious in Tan Tock Seng Hospital since Saturday
Call to slow down escalators being evaluated
In August this year, a Public Transport Council report was released with recommendations to make rides more comfortable and less daunting for everyone, including families, seniors and wheelchair users.
One of the report's key recommendations was the reduction of escalator speeds at train stations to give peace of mind to senior citizens who might be intimidated by fast-moving escalators.
In a report by The Straits Times on Aug 7, SMRT said it had been testing out slower escalator speeds at selected stations since July last year and was evaluating the possibility of reducing the speed of escalators at more MRT stations.
The Land Transport Authority also said that from January to May this year, the number of escalator-related incidents at MRT stations "remained low" at 0.15 incident per one million riders, compared to 0.15 for 2014 and 0.14 for 2015.