Singaporean family would have been at Times Square during blast if not for change of plans

The family were at Times Square on Dec 9, 2017, queueing for Broadway tickets. PHOTO: DARIUS LEE

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean family in New York for a holiday would have been at Times Square during the time of the bomb attack on Monday (Dec 11) if not for a change of plans.

Seventeen-year-old student Darius Lee told The Straits Times on Tuesday that he was in the city with his family for the New York leg of a holiday from Nov 28 to Dec 13.

He spoke to The Straits Times from Frankfurt, where his family was in transit on the way home to Singapore.

"We had initially planned to walk a few blocks down from our hotel to the Good Morning America broadcasting studio at Times Square to watch the morning news live telecast that day," said Darius.

However, at 6am on Monday, the family decided not to go.

Around 7.20am, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi man set off the low-tech makeshift pipe bomb that was strapped to his body in a passageway connecting the Times Square and Port Authority subway stations in Midtown, Manhattan.

When Darius' family heard about the bomb blast that rocked the heart of Manhattan's busiest subway corridor, they were "shocked but also relieved".

Darius' brother, 26-year-old corporate strategy manager Darren Lee, said the family of four stayed five nights at The Wellington Hotel and visited nearby Times Square several times.

He said he felt "rather safe" after the incident, due to the presence of multiple New York Police Department (NYPD) deployment operations in the area.

Mr Lee added that there was also an NYPD command post in the heart of Times Square after the incident.

The family loves travelling and said they do not let terror attacks prevent them from taking trips, but they take steps to keep safe.

"As terror attacks become increasingly commonplace, we have already accepted it as an inevitable part of life, including travelling overseas," said Darius. "But we always avoid large-scale events overseas like concerts or festive markets in the light of the trend of attacks happening at crowded places like in Paris and Nice."

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