Retiree stung to death by hornets in Hillview while hunting for rambutans and durians

Mr Quek Lye Seng died last Friday after being stung by hornets. He was picking durians and rambutans alone in a forest in Hillview when he encountered the insects.
Mr Quek Lye Seng died last Friday after being stung by hornets. He was picking durians and rambutans alone in a forest in Hillview when he encountered the insects.

A 66-year-old retiree, whose wife was killed by a falling tree 12 years ago, died last Friday after being stung by hornets.

Mr Quek Lye Seng was picking rambutans and durians alone at about 3pm that day in a forest in Hillview near Bukit Timah when he encountered the insects.

He eventually died when the toxins caused his vital organs to stop functioning, the younger of his two sons said at the wake yesterday.

A marketing executive who declined to be named, the 30-year-old told The Straits Times that his father managed to run out to Hillview MRT station, where a passerby helped call the ambulance for him.

He was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, and then transferred to the intensive care unit, where he died the next morning.

"My father was a retiree, so in his free time, he liked to go out and pluck durians and rambutans. On that fateful day, he accidentally intruded on some hornets, and they stung him and chased him," said the younger son, who has an elder brother aged 32.

Mr Quek's wife, Madam Ho Siew Lan, was fatally crushed by a falling tree in Bukit Batok Nature Park in May 2007.

She had taken up brisk walking after being diagnosed with a minor heart condition, and was at the park with two friends that rainy morning when tragedy struck. It was the first fatality from a falling tree on the records of National Parks Board.

Mr Quek, who was working as a production operator, had anticipated running into financial difficulties, saying then: "After all, both of us held jobs to support the family. But now one is gone."

The last time the sons saw Mr Quek was over dinner last Thursday.

The younger son said that foraging for fruits was a favourite pastime for his father, who would usually share his pickings with his friends in the neighbourhood, from the nearby market and coffee shop.

The Hillview location is about a 10-minute cycle away from their Bukit Batok flat, and the father would go about four or five times a day, said the younger son.

"My father had been doing that for at least 20 years. He grew up in a kampung so he knew how to do it."

The funeral and cremation will be held at Bright Hill Crematorium today.

Experts said that in a bee attack, one should cover the face and run as quickly and far away as possible. They also advise to run against the wind, as the resistance makes it harder for the bees to keep pace, and also run in a straight line to prevent others from getting stung.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2019, with the headline 'Man, stung by hornets while hunting for fruits, dies'. Print Edition | Subscribe