Elderly Chinese man, who was helped by Hindu devotees after he collapsed, has died

The late Mr Ong Peck Hock's wife, Mrs Bessie Ong, 60, and their 25-year-old son, attend the wake on Oct 26, 2016.
The late Mr Ong Peck Hock's wife, Mrs Bessie Ong, 60, and their 25-year-old son, attend the wake on Oct 26, 2016. PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - An elderly man who was helped by devotees heading to a fire-walking ceremony after he collapsed on Serangoon Road on Sunday (Oct 23), has died.

Mr Ong Peck Hock, 68, a retiree, died at Tan Tock Seng Hospital on Sunday, said his wife, Mrs Bessie Ong, 60, a stenographer.

He had shown signs of response right before he was taken away in an ambulance but doctors later told her that he had "a slim chance of survival" due to a lack of oxygen to his brain.

She said her husband had a history of heart attacks, with his first attack in 1999 and the second in 2007. After the second attack, he was in a coma for nine days and warded in the intensive care unit of a hospital. Doctors said he had six months to live. but he defied their prediction.

But Mr Ong, who also had diabetes, had started developing a bad cough two weeks before his death, said Mrs Ong.

On Wednesday evening (Oct 26), Mr U. Silvakumar, a 58-year-old army military expert , paid his respects to the Mr Ong at a wake at Block 107 Towner Road with his son and about 10 other devotees who had tried to help Mr Ong.

 

Mr Silvakumar had performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on Mr Ong after the latter collapsed. Other devotees clad in their ceremonial attire had also tried to help.

The images of them forming a circle around Mr Ong to help him were widely shared online and became an internet sensation.

Mrs Ong said she thanked Mr Silvakumar and the devotees at the wake. She said: "I appreciate and salute them for helping to revive him."

On Sunday, Mr Ong had pushed his electric bike out to a nearby petrol kiosk as one of the tyres was flat.

After filling it with air, he cycled to the nearby temple as he was curious about the fire-walking ceremony that was going on.

After he collapsed, a devotee found his mobile phone in his pocket and called his home.

Mrs Ong, who picked up the call, rushed down immediately. Mr Ong appeared pale and weak, before she accompanied him to the hospital on the ambulance.

It was Mr Ong's weekend routine to ride his electric bike to explore the nearby places, such as Mustafa, said Mrs Ong.

After he retired in 2009 due to his heart condition, her husband took care of the household and enjoyed shopping for groceries.

"He was very frugal, so he would make it a point to compare the prices," she said.

"He was very, very caring. Up till his last day, he would worry about our son, and whether he has eaten his meals," she added. "

"He would prepare dinner for us every day without fail. I never missed his dinners. But now... ," she said, her voice trailing off. The couple have a 25-year-old son, who recently graduated from university.

She said she loved his fried rice dish cooked with olive oil, spring onions and eggs the most.

"Every one has to go one day. Nobody could have predicted what happened," she said.

On Wednesday, Mr Silvakumar was given the Public Spiritedness Award by the Singpore Civil Defence Force in a ceremony. He said he would not hesitate to help a stranger again. "I think everybody should try to help, regardless of colour or religion," he said.

Mr Silvakumar said he first learnt CPR in 1982 and used it another time in 2009 when trying to save the life of a man at an airport in Jakarta.

Mr Silvakumar also tried to help victims during Jakarta Marriott hotel bombing that year. He was staying at an apartment across from the hotel where he was working at when the explosion happened.