Fatal end to celebration that began with cake, plaque presentation

Family members at the wake of Corporal Kok Yuen Chin in Melaka on May 15, 2018.
Family members at the wake of Corporal Kok Yuen Chin in Melaka on May 15, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

Full-time national serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, 22, was pushed into the pump well at Tuas View Fire Station by a colleague, in the events leading up to his death, a Board of Inquiry has found.

In the first detailed reconstruction of the tragedy that took place on May 13 this year, the board's report highlights how a celebration that started with a cake and plaque presentation ended in Cpl Kok's death.

Cpl Kok, a Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia, was on his last tour of duty before his operationally ready date (ORD) on May 16, the board said in its report released yesterday.

His colleagues at the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) held a celebration for him at the station's watch room to mark his impending ORD, between 8.40pm and 9.04pm on May 13, the report said. He was presented with a cake and a plaque by colleagues on duty that night.

After the celebration, some members of the team carried Cpl Kok, a non-swimmer, according to his family, to the pump well, where he sat on the edge.

At 9.07pm, one of the officers went behind him and pushed him into the well.

Cpl Kok did not resurface. Eight seconds later, the first serviceman jumped into the well in an effort to rescue him. Others also jumped in later, but could not find him.

 
 

The servicemen also used a fire engine suction pump to pump water out of the well, and those jumping in then used breathing apparatuses to dive deeper into the well.

Eventually, one of the servicemen located Cpl Kok. The servicemen then worked together to use ropes to pull Cpl Kok out. He was extracted from the pump well at 9.43pm, about 36 minutes after he had fallen in.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate their colleague, but to no avail. He was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, and reached there at 10.13pm. Cpl Kok was pronounced dead at 11.02pm.

An autopsy found the cause of death to be drowning.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2018, with the headline 'Fatal end to celebration that began with cake, plaque presentation'. Print Edition | Subscribe