Man seriously injured in forklift accident last year needs constant care

Man seriously injured in forklift accident last year needs constant care
PHOTO: Miss Yong

Mr T.Z. Yong, 34, now walks with a limp, is unable to sit or stand for long periods and has to take painkillers every day.

Said his sister: "It's difficult and painful to see how my brother is like now. I just wish that we could go back in time to prevent the accident from happening."

On May 29 last year, Mr Yong, who was then working as a driver, was pinned against a pillar when a forklift driven by fellow driver Theenatayalan Ahumoolam reversed into him.

The Malaysian national was jailed for a week yesterday for committing a negligent act that endangered others' personal safety.

Mr Yong suffered an open pelvis fracture and injuries to the front and back of his groin area.

Despite surgery and regular medical follow-ups, his pelvis still hurts and he has to empty his waste into a colostomy bag.

His sister, a sales manager in her 30s who wanted to be known only as Ms Yong, said Mr Yong is also unable to stand, walk or sit for long periods. He can only lie down on his left side.

She added that doctors have said her brother would need another two to three years to recover.

"And even then, he may not recover fully," Ms Yong told The New Paper in a phone interview recently.

The family has hired a maid to care for Mr Yong, who lives alone in a two-room HDB flat after his mother died of lung cancer in 2013.

Their father, who runs his own business in Malaysia, returns to Singapore periodically to look after him.

Ms Yong said: "I'm married and I don't live with him. I wish I could be there with my brother so I visit him every other day."

It pains her to see him become a pale shadow of his former self.

ACTIVE BEFORE

"Before the accident, he was very active and independent. He held up on his own and wouldn't even tell me when he was ill," she said.

"Now, he can't even do basic chores and needs help to look after himself. He feels useless."

Mr Yong also had to sell off his new motorbike, which he had bought just a month before the accident.

"He loves motorbikes. He took a loan to pay for his new bike. But in the end, we had to sell it at a loss. It was hard for him to swallow," said Ms Yong.

Mr Yong has to attend medical follow-ups at the hospital every two weeks.

Last November, his medical bills amounted to $46,870. Today, it stands at about $100,000, she said.

As Mr Yong has to continue replenishing his medical supplies, such as his colostomy bags, which cost about $300 every week, the bills will grow and financially strain the family, Ms Yong added.

"The bills are too much for us to handle. We've sought the help of social workers and we are engaging a lawyer to seek compensation. As for the hospital bills, we can only pay back slowly in instalments," she said.

Miss Yong said that staff from Theenatayalan's company, Gan Teck Kar Investment, did not visit her brother or offer any compensation.

When contacted by TNP, Gan Teck Kar Investment declined to comment.

Mr Yong also lost his job at Wong Lye Packing Solutions after the accident.

His former employer, Mr Henry Ho, confirmed this, but declined to comment further for legal reasons.

In an interview with TNP last year, he had said that if the 1.9m-tall Mr Yong had been shorter, the forklift would have hit him in the chest and he could have died.

Today, Mr Yong mostly spends his time resting and recovering at home, said his sister.

"My father would occasionally take my brother to his (Singapore branch) office and get him to help out with a bit of work, so that he isn't always cooped up and bored at home," she said.

Asked if her family would forgive Theenatayalan for the accident, Ms Yong said: "I don't think my brother hates the guy who did this to him.

"He just doesn't understand why this had to happen to him. He just wants to be normal again."

MOM: Injury claim still pending

A Ministry of Manpower spokesman said Mr T.Z. Yong filed a work injury compensation claim on Jan 29 this year.

The claim is pending medical assessment of his injuries and permanent incapacity suffered, the spokesman said.

She added that MOM had referred Mr Yong to the Singapore Labour Foundation for financial assistance and he has since received some money from its Special Relief Fund.

When contacted, Theenatayalan Ahumoolam's company, Gan Teck Kar Investment, declined to comment.


This article was first published on June 19, 2015.
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