BUTTERWORTH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It was a heart-wrenching scene at the marine police base in Batu Uban on Monday (Jan 21) when family members of college student Moey Yun Peng, 20, gathered for the search operation for him.
The sport utility vehicle he was driving had plunged off the Penang Bridge early on Sunday morning following a collision with another car.
A woman, believed to be Moey's mother, was heard crying aloud: "When are you coming home?"
Other family members accompanying the woman declined to talk to the media.
The accident occurred at 2.54am on Sunday along KM4 of the bridge linking Penang island with the mainland side of the Malaysian state, Malaysian media reported.
Footage from a dashboard camera obtained by Bernama news agency shows a black Toyota Vios being driven on the mainland-bound side before colliding with a white Mazda CX-5 SUV, sending the SUV plunging off the 13.5km bridge.
Police investigations have revealed that the 21-year-old Toyota Vios driver tested positive for cannabis.
Tests are still being carried out to determine if the driver was also drunk at the time of the incident.
Police investigations revealed that both drivers had been childhood friends "but they were not close", Mr Moey's sister-in-law said.
A dashcam recording and the bridge's closed-circuit television footage showed the two vehicles speeding towards the mainland prior to the collision, which led to the SUV losing control, swerving into the left barricade and plunging into the sea.
The duo had earlier attended a friend's birthday party at a club in Chulia Street in George Town.
At Mr Moey's home in Taman Baiduri, family members waited anxiously for news of the rescue operation and shunned the media.
At about 4pm, marine divers found the white Mazda CX-5 wreckage driven by Mr Moey, but efforts to hoist it were unsuccessful.
The wreckage of the SUV was found 15m away from where it crashed through the bridge's barrier but after about two hours of attempting to lift it, the sky turned dark and the operation had to be postponed.
Marine Police Region 1 commander Rosman Ismail said a body, believed to be Mr Moey's, was found inside.
Curious onlookers stopped their vehicles along Penang Bridge near the scene to observe the operation.
Mr Rosman said the divers found the wreckage on the seabed after the Fire and Rescue Department's team detected it with a sonar scanner.
"The divers secured the car with ropes and linked it to a crane on the bridge."
"But strong currents and poor visibility made things difficult and after four attempts to hoist it out of the water, the rope at the vehicle's wheels broke."
"For the safety of the rescuers, we decided to postpone the operation," he said, adding that it was called off at 7.20pm.
The operation will resume at 9am on Tuesday.
Earlier at a press conference, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow urged PLUS Berhad to review the height of the barrier on the Penang Bridge.
"If there is a need to raise the height, we will ask PLUS to study the feasibility to have it done," he said.