By Lediati Tan
IT was 4am and little Reesy was woken up by the storm raging outside the bungalow.
Feeling scared, the 2-year-old boy called out to Daddy in the next room.
Fortunately for him, Daddy went to get him.
Because moments later, a 24m-tall tree fell and crashed through the roof and into his room.
Branches crushed the cot the little boy would have been in if his father had not carried him out.
Still, father and son were injured in the incident last Thursday.
Reesy's mother, Mrs Michelle Conlon, a housewife in her 30s, said of the harrowing experience: 'It's a miracle. We're lucky to be alive.'
She recounted the incident to The New Paper at her rented single-storey colonial bungalow at Seah Im Road in Telok Blangah.
The Conlons, an expatriate family from Australia, have been living in Singapore for four years.
At about 3.50am that day, Mrs Conlon heard Reesy calling out for his father.
'He was shouting, 'Daddy, come get me. Come get me',' she said.
Reesy shares a room with his 6-year-old brother, Tobias, who sleeps on a separate bed.
At first, Mrs Conlon told her husband, Greg, who is in his 30s, to ignore the boy and let him go back to sleep on his own.
But Mr Conlon, a general manager at an engineering consulting firm, wanted to make sure his son was okay, so he got out of bed and went to the room.
He picked up Reesy from his cot, which was near the window, and walked over to check on Tobias, who was sound asleep.
Crack, then crash
It was then he heard a cracking sound.
Sensing something was amiss, he picked Tobias up as well.
Moments later, the roof caved in and one part of the wall collapsed around him.
A huge tree had crashed into the room.
Mrs Conlon, who was in her room, said: 'I heard the crack and the windows smash. Then I heard the biggest bang of my life. I thought Singapore was being bombed!'
She jumped out of bed. The hallway was dark as the lights had gone out.
'When I opened the door to the children's room, I could not see anything because of the dust. It was like fog,' she said.
She could hear her children crying, but her husband shouted to her that they were all right.
She saw that Reesy's cot was crushed, while Tobias' bed was covered with wood pieces from the roof, the walls and the tree.
She said: 'My husband was standing in the only place (in the room) that was safe, just under the air con.'
Mr Conlon handed Reesy to her as he clambered over the debris with Tobias.
The family then ran out of the house.
While Mrs Conlon was carrying Reesy, she felt something wet on him.
She thought it was oil, but later discovered to her horror that it was blood.
'Reesy was covered from head to toe in blood,' she said.
It was then that she realised that Reesy had been hit on the head.
The boy's forehead had a gash so deep she could see the bone inside, said Mrs Conlon.
Mr Conlon had bruises on his back.
Tobias was unhurt, but, Mrs Conlon said, he 'had so much black (particles) coming out of his eyes (because of the dust)'.
By then, neighbours had heard the noise and came out of their houses in their pyjamas. They called for an ambulance.
The family was taken to the hospital where Reesy underwent surgery.
Mrs Conlon was not able to say how many stitches he received, but she said there were many.
He was hospitalised for two days.
'The doctor said he was hit by something sharp,' Mrs Conlon said.
When we went to her house on Monday, it looked like it had been hit by a hurricane.
The children's bedroom was the most badly damaged - wood and toys were strewn all over the floor. Reesy's cot was crushed under a wall that had collapsed.
The children's playroom, next to the couple's room, had a gaping hole in the ceiling.
Mrs Conlon said: 'I burst into tears when I came home from the hospital and saw the house.'
The family had lived there for 17 months.
On Monday, they moved to a service apartment near Telok Blangah.
A fence runs around the Conlon's garden, separating it from a wooded area. The tree that fell had been in the wooded area.
It took three days, starting from the day it fell, to remove it.
A Singapore Land Authority (SLA) spokesman said the house is state-owned, but is managed by EM Services.
When contacted, an EM Services employee said the incident was being investigated and declined further comment.
The SLA spokesman said it was also investigating the incident and has been in contact with the tenants to help them.
Mrs Conlon said that EM Services had told her that the tree was the biggest in the area.
She said it was lucky that her husband had been there on the morning of the incident.
He had just returned from a business trip to Malaysia the night before.
Mrs Conlon added that her younger son seemed to have had a premonition that something bad was going to happen.
'For a whole week before the incident, Reesy was pointing to the trees outside the window and saying, 'Me no like tree'.'
It was not the first time a tree had fallen in the area, Mrs Conlon said.
About six months ago, one had fallen on the annexe of their house while they were having breakfast.
No one was hurt then, but the roof of the building had to be replaced.
On another occasion, a tree fell into the concrete backyard behind the house.
Mrs Conlon said she and her children were still shaken by the latest incident.
On Monday, when she was recounting the incident, her voice quivered at times and she also broke into tears.
She said she had not been sleeping well since the incident.
Her children have also been having nightmares. And they are terrified by the rain and the sound of thunder.
When The New Paper was there, a heavy downpour had just stopped, but the rumble of thunder could be heard occasionally.
When that happened, the children started crying and huddled in their mother's arms.
Mrs Conlon said the family were not sure if they would move back into the house.
'It's a lovely house. Now, I just hope my sons get over (their trauma).'
This article was first published in The New Paper on Oct 5, 2008.
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