Singaporean hurt in Botanic Gardens had pulled friend to safety

Ms Tay, who dislocated her shoulder, was having a picnic with two friends in the Botanic Gardens last Saturday when the tree fell.
Ms Tay, who dislocated her shoulder, was having a picnic with two friends in the Botanic Gardens last Saturday when the tree fell.PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF TAY PEI LEI

Hearing a loud, cracking noise overhead, she looked up to see a gigantic tembusu tree falling fast in her direction.

Singaporean Tay Pei Lei, 26, who was having a picnic with two school friends at the Singapore Botanic Gardens' Palm Valley last Saturday, scrambled to her feet to get out of the way, pulling one of her friends along with her and dislocating her shoulder as a result.

The top of the tree, which was more than 270 years old, landed on their picnic mat. Ms Tay's two friends escaped with minor scratches, but were traumatised.

"I thought the tree was way too tall and had a chance of hitting us," recalled the civil servant, who was taken to the National University Hospital to be treated. She was discharged later that day.

Indian national Radhika Angara, 38, was pinned under the tree and died. Her husband Jerome Rouch- Sirech, 39, and their one-year-old twin children were also injured. They were on a picnic just 5m away from Ms Tay and her friends.

 

Ms Tay, who is not a regular visitor to the Gardens, recalled it was windy that day. After the tree fell, bringing down nearby palm trees, there was panic, with people running from the scene even as many rushed to help.

Ms Tay, whose arm is now in a sling, estimates that there were at least 10 people near the toppled tree who had a close shave. "Everything happened so fast," she said.

She was given seven days of medical leave and will seek compensation from the National Parks Board (NParks), which she is in contact with. However, she believes NParks did its part by conducting regular checks on the trees in the Gardens.

The heritage tree was last inspected in September last year and was found to be healthy.

Ms Tay said: "What I feel they can do now is to make sure checks would be done more frequently, especially during the rainy or windy season."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2017, with the headline 'Singaporean hurt in Botanic Gardens had pulled friend to safety'. Print Edition | Subscribe