NUS undergraduate who died in Clementi crash was a nature lover who put others first

Miss Kathy Ong was a rear-seat passenger in a taxi with three other friends when it was involved in a collision with a car.
Miss Kathy Ong was a rear-seat passenger in a taxi with three other friends when it was involved in a collision with a car. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/KATHY ONG

First-year undergrad who died in crash an only child who was fun-loving, filial and caring

Friends and family members of Miss Kathy Ong, who died in a car crash last Thursday, remembered her as a caring and fun-loving teen who enjoyed nature and was passionate about environment-related issues.

Miss Ong, 19, was a rear-seat passenger in a taxi with three other friends when it was involved in a collision with a car at the junction of Clementi Road and Commonwealth Avenue West.

Hundreds of friends, mostly from the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Tembusu College, gathered to offer their condolences to her family at her wake on Friday and yesterday.

The wake was held at the Church of St Teresa in Kampong Bahru, where Miss Ong was baptised, and where she felt "most at peace", said her mother, Mrs Jacqueline Ong, 45.

"We were very close as a family. We talked a lot. She's very open, and discussed everything with me," she told The Sunday Times.

The environmental studies undergraduate, an only child, was in her first year of university, and was a resident of Tembusu College, where she and her friends were headed on Thursday night.

Miss Kathy Ong was an environmental studies student who wanted to pursue something wildlife-related after graduation.
Miss Kathy Ong was an environmental studies student who wanted to pursue something wildlife-related after graduation. PHOTO: KATHY ONG/FACEBOOK

Both drivers and the four students were taken to the National University Hospital, where Miss Ong died. Her three friends are still in hospital, with unspecified injuries.

"She would come home during the weekends and tell me all about her modules, her friends, her life in Tembusu," said Mrs Ong.

Her friends remembered her as a genuine, friendly and fun-loving individual who enjoyed playing the occasional prank.

"Once, she made cookies out of cricket flour and fed them to us without telling us," said a friend. "She told us only after we had finished eating."

Miss Ong kept a busy and active schedule in school even as a first-year student, joining various school committees.

"She was the nicest person in Tembusu - the nicest person I know," said another friend, who also declined to be named. "She was someone who put others before herself."

Miss Ong had a very generous spirit, she added. "Even if she was busy and you went to her with a problem, she would drop everything to listen to you."

The accident put the spotlight on busy junctions with similar right-turn lanes.

SPECIAL BOND

We have similar characters. My friends and colleagues who know her all say she talks like me. Not many people can make me laugh, but Kathy was one of them. She said, 'That's because you enjoy intelligent jokes.' She is my source of joy.

MRS JACQUELINE ONG, who says her daughter took after her.

Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay said: "When you are on the road, motorists have to look out for all road users. You have to be very sure no car or pedestrian is crossing. If not, you have to slowly edge out, so slow that you could stop if you have to."

Mr Gerard Pereira, a business development manager at the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, advised passengers in rear seats to always wear seat belts.

"Usually the back seat passengers are the ones most severely injured in accidents because they don't wear seat belts, and there's nothing preventing them from going forward."

Miss Ong appeared to be a conscientious student who had mapped out all the modules she wanted to take in her four-year course, and had wanted to pursue something wildlife-related after graduation.

Another girlfriend remembered her as a filial child who was extremely close to her parents.

"Everything she did, she had her parents in mind," she said. "She would talk about them all the time. We could all tell they meant a lot to her."

Mrs Ong said her daughter took after her. "We have similar characters. My friends and colleagues who know her all say she talks like me. Not many people can make me laugh, but Kathy was one of them. She said, 'That's because you enjoy intelligent jokes.'

"She is my source of joy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 22, 2018, with the headline 'A nature lover who put others first'. Print Edition | Subscribe