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Steward who survived SIA plane crash dies in bike accident

Steward who survived SIA crash in Taiwan in 2000 dies in traffic accident on ECP. -TNP
Rennie Whang

Sun, Mar 25, 2012
The New Paper

He survived the fire that erupted when the plane he was on hit construction equipment on a Taipei runway 12 years ago.

On Tuesday, he was not as lucky.

Mr Mark Tay Kiok Cheng, 51, a leading steward on the ill-fated Singapore Airlines flight SQ006, died in a motorcycle accident.

He was travelling along the East Coast Expressway towards Changi Airport at about 10.30pm when his motorcycle was believed to have skidded.

Mr Tay was taken to Changi General Hospital but died an hour later from his injuries. Former colleagues remember him as a brave man.

Mr Tay was one of three crew members on the flight who returned to the skies, said Ms Farzana Abdul Razak, 30, his colleague on the Oct 31, 2000, flight.

Of the 13 cabin crew members who survived, MsFarzana was the most badly hurt that night.

She suffered burns to 45 per cent of her body.

Despite the danger, Mr Tay reportedly helped to coordinate rescue efforts and was the last crew member to leave the crash site, which claimed the lives of 83 (including four cabin crew members) people on board.

Ms Farzana said she last corresponded with Mr Tay in 2002 or 2003, when the Kuala Lumpur resident was still in Singapore.

She did not know of Mr Tay's death until The New Paper contacted her last night.

Said Ms Farzana: "I'm just so shocked."

She recalled how Mr Tay had informed her via e-mail that he had resumed work after the Taipei incident.

"I said, 'Are you sure you want to do that? It's so dangerous.' He said he still had nightmares, but wanted to move on."

"I think he did the right thing for him, if he was comfortable going back."

But Mr Tay had his problems adapting to work.

Said Ms Farzana: "He said he still felt a bit traumatised during take-off and landing. After a while though, I think he was okay."

Ms Farzana recalled that Mr Tay went backpacking in Koh Samui and Krabi after the crash. She said: "I guess he didn't want to sit around. He was quite adventurous, quite outdoorsy."

One crew member who declined to be named said Mr Tay lived life to the fullest.

He had known Mr Tay for the past three years as they trained together in an SIA martial arts group.

He said: "He loved practising taiji. We were a group of closely-knit people and went for competitions together."

The group went to the 4th World Traditional Wushu Championship at Wudang, China, in 2010.

At the China-Sichuan Emei International Wushu Festival last year, Mr Tay won two gold medals in the sword and 24 Form events.

When The New Paper visited Mr Tay's wake yesterday, his family said his death was unexpected. They declined to comment further.

According to a Lianhe Wanbao report yesterday, Mr Tay had worked for SIA for more than 20 years.

The report said he was the fifth of six siblings. The bachelor lived by himself in the Bedok North area.

An SIA spokesman said the company did not comment on individual employees for confidentiality reasons.

Police said investigations are ongoing. Witnesses can call the Traffic Police hotline at 1800-547-1818.

Crash killed 83 on board flight

Flight SQ006 was bound for Los Angeles when it took off from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, during a storm at 11.18pm on Oct 31, 2000.

Data from the "black boxes" of the Boeing 747-400 showed that the plane took off from the wrong runway.

Shortly after it gained speed while taxiing, it struck concrete blocks in a construction site.

After more collisions with construction equipment, the aircraft exploded in a fireball and broke into three pieces strewn over 100 sq m.

Of the 179 people on board, 83 people, including 11 Singaporeans, died and 44 were injured.

Fire and rescue services brought the fire under control about an hour after the incident.

The crash took place as a typhoon was approaching the island. Earlier, the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau had issued a storm warning.

The crash report, which was released in February 2001, found that poor facilities at the airport may have contributed to the crash.

In July 2002, Singapore Airlines terminated the services of two pilots who had been at the controls of the flight.

By October 2006, the company had settled all 40 lawsuits brought against it in Singapore.

All passenger lawsuits filed against the company by survivors and victims' families were settled out of court.

It was the airline's first major accident in 28 years of operation.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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