Lucky Plaza accident: Friends, family members attend wake of woman who died

CDE executive director Shamsul Kamar speaking to the deceased’s relative. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
People pay their respects at the wake of Ms Abigail Danao Leste. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
People pay their respects at the wake of Ms Abigail Danao Leste. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Friends and family members on Tuesday (Dec 31) attended the wake of Ms Abigail Danao Leste, one of two women who died after a car crashed into them at Lucky Plaza.

When The Straits Times arrived at the funeral parlour in Geylang Bahru, a woman understood to be Ms Leste's cousin was sobbing by the casket.

A priest from the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea conducted Catholic rites for Ms Leste, as part of a 10-minute service arranged by the Centre for Domestic Employees.

Ms Leste's cousin read some scriptures as part of the service, her voice quavering throughout. She later discussed arrangements with the centre and the funeral parlor.

The nine friends and family members at the wake declined to be interviewed, with some saying they were still coming to terms with the tragedy.

Mr Shamsul Kamar, the centre's executive director, said there are plans to fly Ms Leste's daughter to Singapore within the next few days.

"They want to be present at the memorial of their loved one and we would like to realise their aspirations. We are trying to facilitate that process with our resources and networks overseas," he said at the parlour.

A car making a U-turn in Nutmeg Road on Sunday afternoon had careened into the sidewalk where Ms Leste, 41, and five of her close friends were having a picnic.

It hit the six women - all domestic workers - and slammed through a metal railing, sending four of them plunging several metres down to the exit lane of Lucky Plaza's carpark.

Mr Shamsul said the timing of the accident, which took place during the holiday period, made it difficult to bring people together for the service. Ms Leste's former employers are currently overseas.

He added that the centre is still trying to determine the needs of the affected families, and is willing to help send Ms Leste's remains back to the Philippines should this be her family's wish.

More than $184,000 has been raised for the six accident victims so far, he said.

Undertaker Roland Tay from Direct Funeral Services said Ms Leste's employers contacted him around noon on Dec 31, and linked him up with her cousin to arrange for a wake.

Ms Leste's body is expected to be flown back to the Philippines on Thursday, he added.

Members of the public who wish to pay their respects to Ms Leste may do so on Wednesday at the Direct Funeral Services memorial hall at 89 Geylang Bahru from 10am to 2pm.

Separately, Ms Leste's mother, Mrs Lilia Somera, told ABS-CBN News her family is asking the Philippine government to help them press charges against the driver involved.

"He has to pay for what happened to her because we were told he was over-speeding. We want justice," she said, adding: "With what happened, we are no longer in the mood to celebrate the new year. Who wants to see a feast when you're mourning?"

ABS-CBN reported that the remains of Ms Arlyn Nucos, 50, the other Filipino who died, was expected to be brought back to her home town in La Union province, north of the capital Manila, by Wednesday.

Ms Laila Flores Laudencio, one of the six Filipinos involved in what a Philippine envoy said was probably a "freak accident", told Bombo Radyo La Union the car had missed her by inches.

The 44-year-old, who has been discharged from Tan Tock Seng Hospital, said she and sisters Arlyn and Arceli Nucos suddenly found themselves facing a car hurtling towards them.

The car missed her, but it hit and dragged Arlyn, 50, and Arceli, 56, as it crashed into a railing and fell a few metres down into the car park exit road.

She said she later saw another of her friends, Ms Leste, "in red".

"The car was coming at us so fast that we couldn't evade it," said Ms Laudencio. "It seemed to have lost its brakes."

She said all she could do was pray for her life, as she dove away from the car.

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