Drowned teen couldn't swim

Drowned teen couldn't swim
GRIEF: Undertaker Roland Tay (far right), 67, gives the grieving family a special box to transport their son’s ashes back to China.

A teenager from China drowned in an Orchard Road hotel swimming pool on his first trip overseas.

Wu Jintang, 15, was on a cultural exchange programme with about 140 other students from his martial arts school in Henan when the accident happened at the Orchard Parade Hotel last month.

His family flew from their home in Chongqing to Singapore this week and will collect Jintang's body today at 11am.

Wu's elder sister, Ms Wu Jiangyan, 22, said her brother arrived in Singapore on Feb 12 and checked into the hotel at about 6pm.


Although he did not know how to swim, his friends wanted to use the hotel swimming pool and dragged Jintang along with them some time after checking in, she said.

The pool was up to 3m deep.

The school said he had disappeared for 10 minutes without anyone realising he was missing.

His classmates realised he was underwater when they tried looking for him.

They quickly pulled him out, but he was unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the scene at about 10pm.

His father, Mr Wu Shixue, and mother, Madam Kong Yixiu, both 50, are construction workers who together earn about 4,000 yuan (S$870) a month.

They support the family of five and pay about 8,000 yuan (S$1,700) a year for his school fees.

They also fund his sister's university fees.

As his Chongqing family home is far from his school in Zhengzhou, Henan, he has lived away from home since he was 10 and sees his family only once a year for Chinese New Year.

Ms Wu said: "Jintang was supposed to come home for Chinese New Year.

But because of his exchange programme, he didn't come home this year."

Jintang's parents said in a statement: "The last time we saw him was about a year ago when he came home last year for Chinese New Year.

We miss him dearly, and we are still distraught at the death of our only son even though it happened last month."

When the family flew over, they felt lost as they did not know how to approach the authorities.

They contacted Mr Roland Tay, 67, an undertaker, as they had seen him in the newspapers.

Mr Tay decided to help the family by volunteering his services and paying for the funeral.

He hopes the family can find peace when they take the ashes of their son back home to China.


This article was first published on Mar 6, 2015.
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