‘It’s all my fault’, says grandfather of boy who died in traffic accident last year

Mr Tan misses Galen so much that he often sleeps in the boy’s room, which still has his toys.
Mr Tan misses Galen so much that he often sleeps in the boy’s room, which still has his toys.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO
Mr Tan carries photos of Galen everywhere.
Mr Tan carries photos of Galen everywhere.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Almost half a year has passed and he still blames himself for his grandson’s death last December.

Mr Tan Tiong Him, 66, misses Galen Ong Zi Jie, eight, so much that he sleeps in the boy’s room about five times a week.

They were jaywalking across Eu Tong Sen Street at around 7pm on Dec 9 last year when a car hit them. The impact flung Galen to the middle of the road about 10m away.

He died in hospital a few hours later.

“I’ve always thought I was a responsible grandfather, but now that this had happened, there is no way to turn back time to how things were before,” Mr Tan told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao.

When The New Paper went to his flat at Everton Park on Tuesday (April 12), Mr Tan’s wife said he was resting and was too depressed to do another interview.

The slim, soft-spoken woman said the family is still trying to pick up the pieces after the tragedy. She said that her daughter and son-in-law do not blame Mr Tan for their son’s death.


“My daughter and her family emigrated to Australia two weeks ago as they don’t want to be reminded of the tragedy any more,” Mrs Tan said.


“We still keep in contact via WhatsApp and e-mail. Only my husband and I live in this flat now.”

Tears welled in her eyes as she spoke lovingly of Galen.

“We raised him since he was very young. He was a very obedient boy,” she said.

Her husband told Lianhe Wanbao that Galen was their eldest grandson and the apple of his eye.

He now carries Galen’s photographs with him everywhere so he can feel as if his beloved grandson is always with him.

His toys are still in his bedroom.

Pointing to a table filled with toys and photographs, Mr Tan told Wanbao: “These are his favourite toys and I’ve kept them all. I will sleep in his room whenever I think about him.”

He and Galen had gone swimming at Delta Swimming Complex that fateful day and were heading home when the accident occurred.

Mr Tan had decided not to use an overhead bridge about 30m from where they were, near the New Bridge Road Bus Terminal, because he felt climbing the stairs would be too strenuous at his age.

So they crossed at the traffic lights near the bus terminal though it was not a designated pedestrian crossing.

As they were crossing, the lights turned green for oncoming vehicles and they made a run for the other side. But a car driven by student Tan See Woon, 22, crashed into them.

An ambulance took an unconscious Galen to Singapore General Hospital where he was found to have injuries including multiple skull fractures.

He died shortly before 1am the next day.

Mr Tan told Lianhe Wanbao he does not go swimming any more because he does not want to relive the painful memories.

He added: “I thought that if I held his hand, I would be able to protect him. It’s all my fault.”