ST Singaporean of the Year nominee: Duo rescued woman from car before it burst into flames

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When Johnson Chia saw a car crash into a wall, he jumped out his car to get the unconscious driver to safety. He flagged down Azlee Abdul Shukor who offered to drive the woman to safety moments before the car burst into flames.

SINGAPORE - When Mr Johnson Chia Yong Lee, 28, saw a car skid and crash into a wall on the Seletar Expressway, he did not think about the danger in getting out of his car to help.

His focus was on getting the unconscious 33-year-old woman driver to safety quickly, as her car was already spewing smoke, and was minutes away from catching fire.

Mr Chia tried desperately to flag down motorists. Thankfully, sub-contractor Azlee Abdul Shukor, 48, who was driving by in a van, stopped to help. He drove the woman to safety, away from her car.

The two men, who are nominees for The Straits Times' Singaporean of the Year award this year, are not sure they deserve the attention for simply doing the right thing.

Mr Azlee said: "You don't think about safety or what comes next. You just need to do what you think is right".

Both men also received the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Community Lifesaver Award for their act of bravery and selflessness.

The accident took place on Nov 2, at about 4.45pm.

Mr Chia, who works in event production, said he managed to unlock the car door through a shattered window. The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, suffered contusions and bruises after the airbag was activated.

After Mr Chia helped the woman out of her car, he slowly walked her to his car before trying to get someone to stop and help. But no one did until Mr Azlee came along.

Mr Chia could have taken her in his car to seek medical aid but he wanted to alert the SCDF as well as help redirect the oncoming traffic.

Looking back, Mr Azlee said it could have been dangerous for others to stop to render help because cars in the underpass were travelling at high speed.

He said: "When I got closer to where the accident was, I just thought that I had to stop and see what I could do. I did not think anyone else will stop."

After the woman got into his van, he drove off, as did Mr Chia. It was then that Mr Azlee heard a loud explosion, as the car burst into flames and black smoke filled the tunnel.

To vote for the Singaporean of the Year 2021, go to Voting ends Jan 7, 7pm.

The two men pulled over on the road shoulder as soon as they got out of the tunnel and Mr Chia called the SCDF.

Firefighters put out the flames, while the woman was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in an ambulance.

Both men said they hoped their actions will inspire other Singaporeans to be selfless when they encounter people in need.

Mr Chia, who is married, said: "If any accident were to happen, I hope people will step forward and help."

Mr Azlee, who is married with two daughters, added: "What if that girl is your sister or your wife? If no one were there to help, maybe something bad would have happened. We must come together to help one another as human beings."

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