Man dies after mobility scooter topples; he was backing out of lift that was not level with floor outside

Family members of Mr Lim, 77, at his wake yesterday. Two residents with him when he fell backwards on his mobility scooter took a picture of the lift, which was not level with the ground.
Family members of Mr Lim, 77, at his wake yesterday. Two residents with him when he fell backwards on his mobility scooter took a picture of the lift, which was not level with the ground.PHOTO: SEOW BEI YI
The late Mr Lim was described as an independent man who was very fond of his six grandchildren.
The late Mr Lim was described as an independent man who was very fond of his six grandchildren.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MR LIM KENG SWEE

A 77-year-old man died in hospital in the wee hours on Monday (May 16) after his mobility scooter toppled as he was backing out of a lift on the ground floor on Sunday.

The lift at Block 247, Pasir Ris Street 21, where the late Mr Lim Hang Chiang lived, had opened its doors when it was around 15 cm above the floor of the lobby, said his younger son Lim Keng Swee, 45, a safety executive. But his father did not realise this.

Said technical executive Mohamad Ahsurin, 35, one of two residents who was in the lift with the elderly Mr Lim: "I was holding on to the lift door for him. The mobility scooter fell out of the lift backwards, and he hit the back of his head."

 
 

He and the other resident immediately helped the elderly man out of the mobility device, removed it and let him lie on his back.

 
 

The wife of the younger Mr Lim - Madam Wang Ying, 37 - said the accident happened around 10.20am, the same day that her father-in-law was going to have a joint birthday celebration with his 21-year-old grand-daughter.

He would have turned 78 this Friday (May 20).

Madam Wang, a casino dealer, was home when her father-in-law left to meet his elder son for breakfast. But soon after, a neighbour told her that the elderly man had a mishap.

"I went downstairs quickly and saw that my father-in-law had fallen, and two others who were in the lift with him helped him back onto his mobility scooter," she said. "They had already pulled his mobility scooter out from the lift."

He was not bleeding, but the back of his head was hurting, she added.

The family took the old man to Changi General Hospital, where he threw up thrice, said Madam Wang. He later fell into a coma.

CT scans and an X-ray showed that he had a cerebral haemorrhage. Internal bleeding affected half of his brain, said Mr Lim.

Madam Wong added: "He was on life support, but the doctor said he was not suited to undergo surgery because of his old age."

"So the doctor recommended that we gather all our friends and family to visit him. If he shows no more signs of life, they would remove life support," she said.

Close to 30 relatives and friends went to the hospital that evening.

Late in the night, doctors said the elderly man had only six hours to live before his heart failed. He died around 2.15am.

"The accident happened so suddenly. No one expected things would turn out this way," said Madam Wong.

It was not that the first time the lift had caused problems, she said. She and other neighbours noticed that in the past one to two years, the lift would sometimes not be level with the floor outside.

Residents have complained about the condition of the lift, which is around 24 years old. But nothing much was done, she said.

Madam Kwek Sar Moi, 78 - wife of the late Mr Lim - also tripped and fell earlier this year because the lift was not level with the floor outside.

The Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council said it was notified of the incident at around 10.40am on Sunday. "A lift rescue team was immediately sent on site to suspend lift operations until the cause of the incident could be established," it said.

It added that it met the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and lift contractor on site Monday morning as well.

A spokesman for the BCA said it has suspended the lift for further investigation and instructed the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council to appoint an authorised examiner to conduct a thorough inspection of the lift. BCA also told council to check other lifts in the same block.

The late Mr Lim was very independent and would get up at 4am to cook his own breakfast every morning, said Madam Kwek, adding that he was a simple man who was very fond of his six grandchildren.

"I was shocked and devastated to find out what happened," she said. "This should not have happened."