Student dies after falling ill during school trip

Luke Chan, a 15-year-old Catholic High School student, started having diarrhoea on Wednesday in Shanghai, but took medication and continued with the school trip, said Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao.
Luke Chan, a 15-year-old Catholic High School student, started having diarrhoea on Wednesday in Shanghai, but took medication and continued with the school trip, said Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 15-year-old student from Catholic High School died on Saturday (Nov 7) night, after returning from a school trip to Shanghai.

Luke Chan started having diarrhoea on Wednesday in Shanghai, but took medication and continued with the trip, said Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao.

He returned to Singapore on Friday after the trip of about a week, but the diarrhoea started again a day later. He was also vomiting, but did not have a fever.

His mother had planned to take him to KK Women's and Children's Hospital on Saturday night, but Luke suggested waiting till the next day to see a doctor, said Mr Adrian Chua, who has known Luke's mother for more than 15 years. Later that night, Luke had diarrhoea again and fainted.

Mr Chua, 63, told reporters yesterday: "His heart stopped. The mother tried to revive him at home. Then the ambulance came and took him to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and he still could not be revived."

Luke's mother, 43, whose eyes were red and swollen when The Straits Times visited his wake in Ang Mo Kio last night, declined to be interviewed.

Said Mr Chua: "She feels very guilty. She's almost suicidal, in fact, and tried to kill herself earlier today." He said Luke is the only child in the family and he never gave his mother trouble, and had no food allergies.

Luke's parents are divorced. His father, 50, a deliveryman, told the Chinese papers that Luke was active and did well in school, winning scholarships and holding leadership positions. Luke had wanted to become a lawyer, he added.

Luke's grandfather told Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily that Luke was filial and would visit him whenever he was free, chatting and joking with him.

Till now, it is still unclear what caused the diarrhoea. The other students on the trip had no signs of food poisoning, said Shin Min.

Driver Wong Kok Ming, 53, who has been friends with Luke's father for more than 10 years, told The Straits Times in Mandarin: "The most important thing is to know what happened. Was the root cause of the diarrhoea in China or in Singapore?

"If it's likely to have started in China, then how did it happen? Natural disasters like the Sabah earthquake can't be prevented but, perhaps, this case could have been prevented. The authorities must find out as some parents could now be worried about sending their children on overseas trips."

Mr Chua said Luke's parents are waiting for results from an autopsy report, which could be released in about three months' time.

More than 50 people were at the wake last night, including dozens of Luke's schoolmates and teachers. His body will be cremated today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2015, with the headline 'Student dies after falling ill during school trip'. Print Edition | Subscribe