Singapore cyclist in US hit-and-run crash 'recovering well'

24-year-old's surgery successful, says friend; driver in accident still at large

A 24-YEAR-OLD Singaporean who was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident at the weekend in New York City is recovering well, according to a friend yesterday.

Mr Joel Cheng, a former classmate who visited Mr Al-Matin Mohamed at Bellevue Hospital a day after the accident, said in a Facebook post that he had successfully undergone surgery, and "the doctor says he is recovering well".

Mr Cheng, 24, a marketing executive, later told The Straits Times over the phone: "We could communicate; he could understand us and he could mouth words, but he can't speak yet."

He also said Mr Al-Matin's mother and older sister were arriving in the city later in the day.

An aspiring pastry chef, Mr Al-Matin had moved to New York City to train alongside pastry chefs at prestigious seafood restaurant Le Bernardin.

But barely a month after he arrived, he was hit by a getaway car travelling in the wrong direction while he was cycling along East 29th Street last Saturday morning New York time, reports said.

According to the New York Daily News, the driver was fleeing from the police after a violent robbery. He crashed into a building in Lexington Avenue but managed to escape, and remains at large.

Mr Al-Matin was flung across the street and onto the pavement.

He suffered head trauma, two broken legs, a fractured pelvis and a busted arm, said the newspaper.

A former student of Anglo- Chinese Junior College, he was the captain of its football team.

After completing his national service, where he served as a Guards officer, Mr Al-Matin left for Australia to study at the Le Cordon Bleu Sydney Culinary Arts Institute.

Mr Cheng, who was holidaying in New York City when he read reports of the accident on the Internet, said he visited Mr Al- Matin in hospital with a friend who is working in the city.

Both were in the football team with Mr Al-Matin, whom he described as "hardworking and focused during football training".

Mr Cheng added: "He had mentioned his culinary interest, so it was not a surprise when he went to Australia to pursue it."

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said that "the Singapore Consulate in New York City is in contact with the injured Singaporean and his next of kin".

In a Facebook post yesterday, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said Mr Al-Matin is "in the best trauma centre in New York City and is receiving good care".

He added: "His injuries are serious but not life threatening, so thank God for that."

leepearl@sph.com.sg