His life was saved when boss asked him to buy coffee

His life was saved when boss asked him to buy coffee
From left: Mr Phornamdaeng Thiticha with Mr Kabkaew Suriphon and Mr Suphathip Sanya at the open field behind Golden Mile Complex - where the Nicoll Highway collapse accident happened on 20 April 2004. They were there to pay their respects, and offer prayers and incense.

It is a simple gesture but one he has marked religiously for 10 years.

Whenever the workers he supervises are tired, he gives them a treat.

That same gesture by his boss saved his life in 2004 when a part of Nicoll Highway collapsed that year, said Mr Phornamdaeng Thiticha, 46. That boss was none other than the construction foreman The New Paper dubbed Hero Heng.

Mr Heng Yeow Peow treated his workers with dignity and respect, said Mr Phornamdaeng.

And he was always giving them a treat to help them get through a tough day.

Just 20 minutes before the collapse, Mr Heng asked Mr Phornamdaeng to buy coffee and fruit for his colleagues.

Then 36, he went to get the drinks and food for their daily tea break.

After his errand, Mr Phornamdaeng resumed work on the surface of the MRT on the Circle Line worksite instead of entering the tunnel where Mr Heng and the rest of his co-workers were.

He said in Thai, through a translator: "Ah Heng saved my life. If it wasn't for him sending me to buy coffee, I would have been in the tunnel and I might not be alive. Thank you, Ah Heng."

He was not the only one Mr Heng saved. Even as the site started falling apart at 3.30pm, he got eight of his workers to rush out ahead of him.

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