Car plunges into Alexandra Canal: Relatives struggle to make sense of accident

Mr Poon, 50, with the two women he referred to as his "princesses" - his wife, Madam Yep, 51, and daughter Kimberly, 22.
Mr Poon, 50, with the two women he referred to as his "princesses" - his wife, Madam Yep, 51, and daughter Kimberly, 22.PHOTO: COURTESY OF ROBIN POON
Above: Mr Poon, 50, with the two women he referred to as his "princesses" - his wife, Madam Yep, 51, and daughter Kimberly, 22. Right: Mr Poon overcome with grief at the mortuary yesterday, after losing both of them when their car plunged into the Al
Mr Poon overcome with grief at the mortuary yesterday.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Man loses wife, only child in canal crash; he says family's cars were maintained regularly

Mr Robin Poon still cannot fathom how the car driven by his wife and carrying their only child could end up in Alexandra Canal.

The freak accident on Sunday night cost both women, Madam Yep Lay Choo, 51, and 22-year-old Kimberly Poon, their lives.

At yesterday's wake in Woodlands, where the bodies of mother and daughter were laid side by side, Mr Poon, 50, could be seen discussing with mourners the accident as he tried to make sense of what happened to the two women he referred to as his "princesses". Witnesses said the car exited the basement carpark at Valley Point Shopping Centre and crashed through the canal barrier 40m straight ahead.

Mr Poon, who runs a car repair business, told the media yesterday his wife was licensed to drive a lorry, and she had 20 years of driving experience with no incident. He added that the family's cars were regularly maintained. The family had owned the Mercedes-Benz for about three years now, but his wife started driving it often only recently.

Mr Poon said his wife was a very quiet woman and a "workaholic". Mr Yep Tai Sai, 54, Madam Yep's older brother, echoed those sentiments.

 

NOTHING AMISS BEFORE INCIDENT

They were smiling and walking to the car. Nothing was wrong.

MR YEP TAI SAI, Madam Yep's older brother, on CCTV footage showing mother and daughter walking in the carpark.

The siblings worked together at the maritime logistics firm that started out as a family business. Madam Yep was the human resources manager and had been working for the company for more than 20 years, he said. She was the second child and only daughter among four children.

Mr Poon described his daughter, who was studying logistics and supply chain management at Singapore Institute of Management, as a "very easy-going and bubbly person".

She had chosen the course with the intention of joining her mother at work. Mother and daughter were very close, and used to watch Korean shows together, relatives said.

The last time Mr Poon saw his wife and daughter alive was on Sunday afternoon when the family went out for their weekly lunch. They had gone to an Italian restaurant at Hotel Vagabond in Syed Alwi Road, then for a foot massage. They went their separate ways for dinner as Mr Poon had a work appointment. "It was a usual Sunday; it was a usual lunch. I didn't know that would be my last conversation with them," he said.

Madam Yep and Ms Poon took the Mercedes-Benz E250, which is registered to Madam Yep's brother, and went for dinner at Valley Point Shopping Centre. After that, they went shopping at the NTUC FairPrice supermarket there.

Mr Yep said closed-circuit television footage from the mall showed the pair walking happily in the carpark carrying grocery bags. "They were smiling and walking to the car. Nothing was wrong," he said.

But a few minutes later, the car exited the basement carpark and Madam Yep, who was driving, appeared to lose control of the vehicle.

Post-accident footage of the car when it had been removed from the canal showed that the front end was dented and its airbags had deployed. Both women were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. Police are investigating and treating the case as unnatural death. The police said they received a call at about 9pm requesting assistance.

Both women were manually extricated from the fully submerged vehicle by rescue divers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force's Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team.

A relative, who identified herself as Mr Poon's sister, was distraught.

She said: "We can't come to terms with what has happened yet. They were so close."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'Relatives struggle to make sense of accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe