Memorial mass for S'porean killed falling off a train in Thailand to be held today, which is also his birthday
...he told me that he wanted to teach English at a village in Thailand. He had such a big heart. It's sad... But the good truly do die young.
- Madam Dawn Pereira, a long-time friend of Mr Shaun Joseph D'Cruz
He would have turned 30 years old today.
Instead of sharing his birthday joy, his family and friends will be mourning his passing in a memorial mass.
Ten days ago, Mr Shaun Joseph D'Cruz, a former model, was killed in a tragic accident in Thailand.
Speaking on behalf of his parents, who were too distraught to be interviewed, a close friend who requested anonymity said Mr D'Cruz had fallen off a train travelling from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. The Singaporean was at the rear of the train when the accident happened.
Thai newspaper Khaosod reported that Mr D'Cruz, who was with his girlfriend, had wanted to take pictures of the scenery and stood on the steps without realising the train was approaching a bridge.
When the train passed the bridge, it hit Mr D'Cruz and knocked him off the train as his girlfriend screamed in horror.
Some may remember Mr D'Cruz as one of the hunks in the Channel 5 TV game show Deal Or No Deal about six years ago.
But he was more than a model.
To his friends and loved ones, he was also a musician, a mentor and a free spirit who loved the outdoors.
Shortly before his untimely death, Mr D'Cruz was working in an organic farm in Chiang Mai.
On Facebook, outpourings of grief came from his friends from all around the world.
One of them, arts manager Dawn Pereira, 37, told The New Paper yesterday that she had known Mr D'Cruz since he was 10 years old.
She became his neighbour after her parents bought a flat at his parents' block in Bedok North.
Madam Pereira said: "The former owner of my flat said there were other Eurasian families living in my block.
"Imagine my mother's surprise when she found out that Shaun's mother was her secondary school classmate. I saw him grow up from a shy 10-year-old boy into a gentleman."
As he got older, they often bumped into each other at nightspots and they would share a taxi home, she recalled.
She said: "Shaun left Singapore for Thailand about three years ago. I last met him about 1½ years ago at a mutual friend's wedding and he told me that he wanted to teach English at a village in Thailand. "He had such a big heart. It's sad... But the good truly do die young."
Another friend, who wished to remain anonymous, said she first met Mr D'Cruz at a birthday party about five years ago.
The friend, who is in her 30s and works in the media, said: "I used to work in a shop and Shaun joined it not long after I left.
"The party was held there and I was invited to it. That was how we met.
"He was a very handsome guy and that was what struck me about him at first. But as I got to know him better, I found him to be very down-to-earth, very sweet and sensitive. He will be missed."
They last met about two years ago when she was on holiday in Phuket.
At the time, he was juggling several jobs there, including bartending and teaching holidaymakers how to paddle-surf.
He would return to Singapore sporadically, but because of her work commitments, they seldom had the time to meet up. They kept in touch online.
Added the friend: "He loved being close to nature and was not the kind to join the rat race. I admired his tenacity as he enjoyed living close to nature, away from the corporate world.
"I was going to bed on Sunday when one of our ex-colleagues told us about the tragedy. I can't believe Shaun is gone."
Mr D'Cruz's body was cremated in Thailand and his ashes were scattered in a pond at the farm where he worked.
His memorial mass will be held in the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at Siglap Hill at 7pm today.
This article was first published on August 19, 2014.
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