SINGAPORE - On maternity leave after giving birth to her second daughter four months ago, Ms Lin Xiuyue took the opportunity to visit Hokkaido, Japan, with her husband and two children.
The family had planned to return home before Chinese New Year to celebrate the occasion with their latest addition, but while they were driving in the ski town of Kamifurano on Jan 10, they were in a car accident that killed Ms Lin, 41, and her younger child.
Their rental car was reportedly turning from a side road into the main road when it collided with a large lorry.
Speaking to The Straits Times on Wednesday at the wake in Jurong West, Ms Lin’s brother-in-law said he was shocked when he learnt about what had happened to the family.
“It is two deaths at one time during a sensitive period – just before Chinese New Year,” said Mr Chris Chan, 38, a civil servant.
“They are a young family and her younger daughter Aahana is barely half a year old.”
He had found out what had happened from his wife, who spoke to Ms Lin’s husband, Mr Karthik Balasubramanian, on the day of the accident.
Mr Karthik, a 44-year-old engineer, and his older daughter Aanya, who is three years old, suffered minor injuries and were discharged from a hospital in Hokkaido a few days ago.
Mr Chan said Mr Karthik was naturally devastated after what had happened and that he and Aanya were due to return to Singapore on Wednesday night.
Mr Karthik and Ms Lin, who was a teacher at Nan Chiau Primary School, were married in 2017.
They left for Japan a few days after the turn of the new year. The holiday had taken place just before Ms Lin was scheduled to return to work.
Though Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan, is a popular ski destination for Singaporeans during the winter months, Mr Chan said it was unlikely the couple would have been planning to go skiing with two young children in tow, and they had probably gone there for sightseeing.
Mr Chan said Ms Lin, the eldest of three siblings, was an important pillar of the family who would take the lead in handling family matters.
He added that Ms Lin’s aged parents were grief-stricken following the deaths of their daughter and granddaughter, but they are coping better now.
The funeral for Ms Lin and Aahana will be held on Friday, two days before Chinese New Year.
Mr Chan said the family had been looking forward to getting together as a big group to celebrate the occasion after two years of Covid-19 restrictions.
“Some things are sometimes just fated,” he said.
“Nobody knows why things happen. We just have to try our best to cope and to move on.”