NSF's death: Mum still trying to come to terms with loss

ST 20130429 VCUT2 3634013m

A year after her eldest son Dominique Sarron Lee Rui Feng died after collapsing during a military exercise, Madam Felicia Seah still cries herself to sleep every night.

And every day, she drives to the Lim Chu Kang Christian Cemetery, spending an hour talking to her dead child and cleaning his grave.

"How do you expect me to move on... I've tried but I just cannot. I still have so many questions that have not been answered," said Madam Seah, a manager.

She was told last November that six smoke grenades were used in the training area where her son passed out after suffering an allergic reaction from the zinc chloride in the smoke. Private Lee, 21, died in hospital later.

Six months on, she is reliving the pain of her loss, when she attended a coroner's inquiry last Monday. A platoon commander, Captain Najib Hanik Muhammad Jalal, in the 3rd Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment said he threw more smoke grenades than the two he was supposed to because there was no wind to create the smoke screen needed to mask the movement of the troops.

Combat medic Goh Khen Hui who first attended to Pte Lee said he did not have enough medical training or adequate equipment to deal with asthma attacks. Three servicemen also told the coroner they were not trained to look out for factors that can set off asthma, or deal with asthma attacks.

As the inquest has been adjourned till June, Madam Seah said she is trying to take her mind off the pain and spend more time with younger son, Daryl Shane, 17. Last December, they went to Britain, visiting Pte Lee's favourite spots such as football club Manchester United and The Beatles' hometown in Liverpool.

"We don't want to abandon him (Pte Lee). We want him to feel that he is still very much with us."

jermync@sph.com.sg