Retiree's escalator fall

Retiree who fell off Bishan MRT escalator awakes from coma after two months

Retiree Lim Chwee Leong in his bed at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. After his accident last November, Mr Lim underwent a tracheostomy and two operations to his brain. Although he has not fully recovered, he told his girlfriend that he could remember his fa
Retiree Lim Chwee Leong in his bed at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. After his accident last November, Mr Lim underwent a tracheostomy and two operations to his brain. Although he has not fully recovered, he told his girlfriend that he could remember his fall.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Man who fell at Bishan MRT station can now move slightly and respond to questions

Retiree Lim Chwee Leong, 64, awoke from his coma yesterday, two months after he fell on an escalator at Bishan MRT station.

The incident was among the more than 60 others that took place late last year and cast a spotlight on elderly escalator users' safety.

When The Straits Times visited Mr Lim at Tan Tock Seng Hospital yesterday evening and chatted with him, he was able to nod in response to simple questions. He was also able to move his right leg and hand slightly.

Yesterday was the first time Mr Lim had spoken since the accident on Nov 12.

His son Lim Ka Hock, 46, said he received the good news in the afternoon when his father's girlfriend telephoned from the hospital.

 
 
 

"She was yelling in his ear, telling him about how so many people have been helping us," he said. "He will need more time to recover, but I am overjoyed to hear this good news."

Mr Lim said his father had told his girlfriend that he remembered he had a fall at the MRT station.

"As for his memory of other things, he will still need some time, but we are hopeful," he said.

There were 63 accidents involving escalators in November and December, according to figures from the Building and Construction Authority last month. Nearly four out of five such accidents involved those aged above 60.

The elder Mr Lim, who is in a recovery ward, underwent a tracheostomy and two operations to his brain while in a coma.

His son, who works as a delivery driver, previously told The Straits Times that he was worried about his father's chances of recovery and future medical costs. It will cost about $2,000 a month, after government subsidies, for his father to receive proper care at a nursing home - if he can be discharged from the hospital, said the younger Mr Lim.

The younger man, who is divorced, lives in a four-room HDB flat in Bishan with his father, two siblings and a 15-year-old son. They are unable to care for his father full-time as they have to work or go to school.

Several people have reached out to him after reading about the incident in the news and offered money and food, he said.

Non-profit organisation The Ray of Hope Initiative has also started an online fund-raising campaign to raise $4,600 for his father's nursing home fees for two months. About $1,980 has been raised to date.

The fund-raiser can be found at https://simplygiving.com/event/limchweeleong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2017, with the headline 'Victim awakes from coma after two months'. Print Edition | Subscribe