Duo lauded for helping driver in crash on SLE

He was driving in an underpass on the Seletar Expressway (SLE) when a car in the right lane beside him skidded and crashed into the wall, bouncing off it and narrowly missing his car before it came to a stop in the left lane.

Mr Johnson Chia Yong Lee stopped to help the driver as the stalled car started to emit smoke. The 33-year-old female driver was unconscious when he got to the car door but she came to quickly, and Mr Chia helped her out of the car.

He flagged down Mr Azlee Abdul Shukor's van, and Mr Azlee offered to take the woman to safety. As soon as they drove off, the smouldering car burst into flames.

Yesterday, Mr Chia and Mr Azlee received the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Community Lifesaver Award for their displays of courage that Nov 2 afternoon.

Speaking to The Straits Times at the headquarters of the 3rd SCDF Division in Yishun, Mr Chia, 28, who works in events production, said: "I was just worried something worse was going to happen to her."

Recalling the incident, which occurred at about 4.45pm, he said the car window had shattered, which allowed him to reach in and unlock the door. The woman, who was not named, had suffered contusions and bruises, and he guided her to his car.

Mr Chia then tried to flag down a vehicle but struggled to get any attention. "It was peak hour and there were many cars... but none of them stopped."

Eventually, Mr Azlee, 48, who works for a logistics company, stopped his van. By that time, flames were seen coming out of the engine of the woman's car and, fearing the worst, he offered to drive the woman out of the tunnel.

Mr Azlee said that as soon as they drove off, he heard a loud "boom" as the car burst into flames, and black smoke engulfed the tunnel.

He said: "I had never seen anything like that before. I didn't even think the smoke from the fire could become so thick."

He noticed that the woman was shaking and seemed to be in shock. He offered to drive her to the hospital, but she declined.

Both Mr Chia and Mr Azlee stopped their vehicles as soon as they got out of the tunnel, and Mr Chia called the SCDF.

The SCDF arrived within five to six minutes and took the woman to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. Firefighters extinguished the fire with a compressed air foam jet.

Referring to the award, Mr Azlee said: "We are not brave people, just people who care and want to help those in need."

Mr Chia said he never expected to receive such recognition.

"I just believe that if you do something good, (good things) will come in return."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2021, with the headline 'Duo lauded for helping driver in crash on SLE'. Subscribe