NUS student drowns off the Amalfi Coast

Brother cites coroner as saying NUS student could have lost consciousness during swim

Mr Timothy Kok was found dead in the waters off Salerno, in Italy's picturesque Amalfi Coast.
Mr Timothy Kok was found dead in the waters off Salerno, in Italy's picturesque Amalfi Coast.PHOTO: COURTESY OF KOK TSE WEI

Mr Timothy Kok Tse En was known to his friends as someone who lived and breathed music.

He was a charismatic band major, a leader who always had a ready smile. Last Saturday, the budding musician, a first-year student at the National University of Singapore's Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, was found dead in the waters off Salerno, in Italy's picturesque Amalfi Coast.

Ironically, he had travelled to Italy for a music festival and was holidaying after it ended.

The 22-year-old was there with a friend and had drowned during a swim, his brother, Mr Kok Tse Wei told The Straits Times yesterday.

"The two of them were at a beach in Amalfi, taking turns to swim and look after their belongings," said the 34-year-old arts administrator.

But 45 minutes before the duo was supposed to leave, the younger Mr Kok went for a swim and never came back, said Mr Kok, who is in Italy arranging to fly his brother's body home. He had flown there with his wife on Monday, after they learnt of the accident.

He said the Italian coroner told him there were no physical injuries on the body. The coroner had explained that something external - a change in water temperature, physical activity or even indigestion - probably caused a shock to Mr Timothy Kok's body, leading him to lose consciousness.

"The last few days have been a nightmare for us," said Mr Kok, adding that his parents were devastated at losing one of their two children.

He said his brother had gone to Italy last month for the International Brass Festival and was due to return to Singapore this week.

"I loved him as a brother and I just wish we had more opportunities to do things together," he said. Growing up, he had taught his younger brother to play the trombone, but the young boy displayed a talent for the instrument and eventually outdid his teacher. "It got to the stage where he was better and maybe could teach me sometimes," said Mr Kok.

A Facebook group created in rememberance of Mr Timothy Kok has drawn pictures and emotional posts from his family and friends.

Mr Kenny Leng, one of Mr Timothy Kok's long-time friends and a bandmate from Xinmin Secondary School, said the younger Mr Kok had discovered his love for music while in the band.

"One thing that really stood out about Timothy was that he really dared to chase his dreams. He loved travelling and making music," said the undergraduate, 22.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2015, with the headline 'Undergrad 'drowned in Amalfi Coast''. Print Edition | Subscribe