Lucky Plaza accident: 2 Filipino maids dead, 2 discharged, 2 hospitalised

The car crashed through a railing and landed on the carpark exit lane a few metres below, killing two Filipino domestic workers and injuring four others.
The car crashed through a railing and landed on the carpark exit lane a few metres below, killing two Filipino domestic workers and injuring four others.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE
Sisters Arcely (left) and Arlyn Nucos were among six Filipino victims in the car crash at Lucky Plaza on Dec 29, 2019. Ms Arlyn Nucos later died from her injuries at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
Sisters Arcely (left) and Arlyn Nucos were among six Filipino victims in the car crash at Lucky Plaza on Dec 29, 2019. Ms Arlyn Nucos later died from her injuries at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.PHOTO: ARLYN NUCOS / FACEBOOK
The car crashed through a railing and landed on the carpark exit lane a few metres below, killing two Filipino domestic workers and injuring four others.
The car crashed through a railing and landed on the carpark exit lane a few metres below, killing two Filipino domestic workers and injuring four others.PHOTO: PHV RIDERS AND DRIVERS SINGAPORE/FACEBOOK
In a video seen on social media, the car accelerates suddenly after making a U-turn before crashing into a railing and plunging to the exit lane below.
In a video seen on social media, the car accelerates suddenly after making a U-turn before crashing into a railing and plunging to the exit lane below.PHOTO: NUR JM MOHD - OFFICIAL/FACEBOOK
In a video seen on social media, the car accelerates suddenly after making a U-turn before crashing into a railing and plunging to the exit lane below.
In a video seen on social media, the car accelerates suddenly after making a U-turn before crashing into a railing and plunging to the exit lane below.PHOTO: NUR JM MOHD - OFFICIAL/FACEBOOK
In a video seen on social media, the car accelerates suddenly after making a U-turn before crashing into a railing and plunging to the exit lane below.
In a video seen on social media, the car accelerates suddenly after making a U-turn before crashing into a railing and plunging to the exit lane below.PHOTO: NUR JM MOHD - OFFICIAL/FACEBOOK
The car accelerates onto the pavement, hitting some Filipinos having a picnic, before crashing into the railing and plunging to the car park exit road below.
The car accelerates onto the pavement, hitting some Filipinos having a picnic, before crashing into the railing and plunging to the car park exit road below.PHOTO: NUR JM MOHD - OFFICIAL/FACEBOOK
The car accelerates onto the pavement, hitting some Filipinos having a picnic, before crashing into the railing and plunging to the car park exit road below.
The car accelerates onto the pavement, hitting some Filipinos having a picnic, before crashing into the railing and plunging to the car park exit road below.PHOTO: NUR JM MOHD - OFFICIAL/FACEBOOK
The car accelerates onto the pavement, hitting some Filipinos having a picnic, before crashing into the railing and plunging to the car park exit road below.
The car accelerates onto the pavement, hitting some Filipinos having a picnic, before crashing into the railing and plunging to the car park exit road below.PHOTO: NUR JM MOHD - OFFICIAL/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Two of them were sisters, two were related to each other and between them, the six Filipino maids were a tight-knit group, getting together most Sundays.

For several years, they met at Lucky Plaza mall on their usual rest day, often along the same stretch in Nutmeg Road.

That was where they were last Sunday (Dec 29) when a car hurtled down on them, hitting all six.

They had picked a spot that was right between an entrance to the mall and a tree on a pavement along that road.

But the spot was also right where a vehicle making a U-turn ended up hitting the group of six, taking some of them down as it crashed through a metal railing and plunged 4m down.

What had begun as a joyous occasion over drinks and food that the group of six had brought along to celebrate the upcoming New Year ended with two killed and four injured.

Ms Abigail Danao Leste, 41, and Ms Arlyn Picar Nucos, 50, died from their injuries after being taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, while another two remain hospitalised, including Ms Nucos' sister, Arceli, 56.

Two in the group are believed to be relatives: Egnal Layugan Limbauan, 43, and Demet Limbauan Limbauan, 37. While Ms Demet has since been discharged, Ms Egnal is hospitalised.

The last woman in the group, Ms Laila Flores Laudencia, 44, has also been discharged.

On Monday, a video appearing to be footage of the accident taken from closed-circuit television cameras made the rounds online. It shows the car making a U-turn before accelerating across the adjacent lane and into a group of people on a pavement.

A spokesman for Lucky Plaza said that the police are investigating the accident and the mall could not confirm that the footage came from its cameras.

From videos circulated online after the accident, groups of people could be seen celebrating the festive season on a pavement in Nutmeg Road and wishing one another "Happy New Year" in Tagalog.



The railing at the accident scene has been replaced with a plastic barricade, on Dec 30, 2019. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Loud sounds of a crash are heard before the footage cuts to a black car plunging and landing on the exit lane.

Screams of "Dead! Dead!" ensue. Several passers-by then climb down from the pavement to provide assistance.

Images of the aftermath show at least four people lying near the vehicle, including a woman pinned under it. A stretch of the metal railing along the pavement can be seen severely damaged.

Friends of Ms Abigail said the group always hung out around Lucky Plaza on their days off.

Domestic helper Marnellie Pascua, 35, said: "Sometimes they are there for picnics, or they'd just be meeting friends there. That spot is always their spot."

Just minutes before tragedy struck, Ms Abigail had phoned her daughter from the Lucky Plaza pavement to ask about her day, Ms Marnellie added.

Ms Abigail's son and daughter are both in their early 20s.

But that conversation was cut short when her daughter accidentally cut the call and did not ring her back, much to her daughter's regret, said Ms Marnellie, whose group of friends spoke to Ms Abigail's children after the accident.

Ms Abigail had planned to return to the Philippines in March instead of this month, as her daughter was graduating from college, she added. "We all know Abigail as a nice girl, she's a joker, and whenever she laughs we would all want to laugh too because she has such a nice laugh."

Mr Daniel Mendoza, 34, a manager of a travel agency located in Lucky Plaza, said he knew the Nucos sisters as they would visit his shop occasionally to ask about the prices of flight tickets.

He added that the group would meet every Sunday.

"No one could have expected this accident. All it took was a few seconds and then the crash happened," said Mr Mendoza, adding that he saw the black car accelerate after making a U-turn.

Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, chairman of the Centre for Domestic Employees, told reporters on Monday that the two women who died had been working in Singapore for more than 20 years, while some of the injured have been here for at least 10 years.

"They are quite senior workers and they have been contributing to our families and supporting them all the while," he said.

The employer of one of the domestic helpers who died is currently on holiday.



A man believed to be the driver of the car being led away by police to assist in investigations. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Meanwhile, the daughter of one of the dead women has confirmed that she will travel to Singapore, said Mr Yeo.

When asked by reporters whether the Centre for Domestic Employees would look into the possible hazards of domestic helpers hanging out on pavements, Mr Yeo said the accident "cannot be guarded against".

"It's not fair to say that the pavement is not a proper place to gather, because I think no one can imagine or expect a car (to behave the way it did)," he said.

"Any person could have been in the area because it is near a main entrance. It does not have to do with the design of the area or the conduct of any member of the public."

In a Facebook post on Monday, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling expressed condolences to the families of the two who died in the accident.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Ms Low had visited the injured victims in the hospital earlier on Monday to show support.

Dr Balakrishnan said in a Facebook post: "Singaporeans are shocked and deeply saddened to learn about the tragic loss of life and injuries to six Filipinos at Lucky Plaza on (Sunday). What was supposed to be a day of rest, fellowship and celebration turned into a tragedy."

 
 

He added: "As we prepare to welcome the New Year with our families, it is timely to also remember the invaluable contributions of those who help in our households, provide care for our family members, and sacrifice so much in order to provide for their own families far away."

Back in the Philippines, the Nucos sisters were a kind and generous pair who were helping to send their nephews and nieces to school, said a family member who spoke to The Straits Times.

Ms Ana Marie Nucos, 37, who is related to the sisters, told ST from the Philippines that Ms Arceli was the eldest of four siblings. Ms Arlyn was the third. The Nucos sisters are from La Union, which lies in the north-western region of Luzon Island in the Philippines.

Ms Ana Marie said the two sisters had also helped her sister-in-law land a job as a domestic helper in Singapore. "They helped with everything. They were very kind," she said.

Additional reporting by Raul Dancel, Malavika Menon and Clement Yong