SINGAPORE - Singaporean actor Aloysius Pang, 28, died on Wednesday night (Jan 23) from injuries sustained last Saturday while carrying out repair works inside a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer in New Zealand, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).
In a statement issued late Wednesday night (Jan 23), Mindef said "Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Operationally Ready National Serviceman, Corporal First Class (National Service) [CFC (NS)]Pang Wei Chong, Aloysius passed away at 2045hrs on 23 January 2019 (SG time) at Waikato Hospital, New Zealand.
"An Armament Technician from the 268th Battalion Singapore Artillery, CFC (NS) Pang was carrying out repair works inside the Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer (SSPH) with two other SAF personnel on 19 January 2019 at Waiouru Training Area, New Zealand.
"Unfortunately, CFC (NS) Pang sustained injuries when the gun barrel was lowered. He was evacuated to Waikato Hospital, a regional trauma centre where he underwent a number of surgeries to treat his injuries.
"Dr Teo Li Tserng, Chief of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, was flown in to assist the New Zealand medical team tending to CFC (NS) Pang. Despite surgical attempts to repair damaged organs and putting him on artificial life support, CFC (NS) Pang succumbed to the injuries and passed away.
"An independent Committee of Inquiry will be convened to investigate the circumstances leading to the incident. A press conference will be held on 24 January 2019 to present the preliminary findings and will be chaired by the Chief of Defence Force.
"The SAF will be making arrangements to bring the body of the late CFC (NS) Pang back to Singapore.
"The Ministry of Defence and the SAF extend their deepest condolences to the family of CFC (NS) Pang and will continue to render assistance and support in their time of loss."
A post went up on late Wednesday night on the actor's Instagram account that appeared to have been written by one of his two elder brothers on behalf of the family.
It read: "Throughout the past few days at the hospital, it has been a difficult time for us. Every news that were brought upon us since his last op was devastating with little signs of hope on his recovery.
"We all broke down when the medical team spoke to us that his condition is worsening and we should be prepared for the worst. We're going to lose a brother. And my parents are going to lose their precious son whom is only 28.
"Thus I seek everybody's kind understanding that we are unable to comment further during these precarious time."
CFC (NS) Pang was injured in his chest and abdominal areas while carrying out repair works inside a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer last Saturday during an annual live-firing exercise called Thunder Warrior. He was on reservist duty.
He underwent abdominal surgery that evening, with a planned follow-up surgery completed on Monday.
However, CFC (NS) Pang's condition worsened and he required additional surgery, which was completed on Tuesday just before midnight (2354 hrs), said Mindef on Wednesday.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in an update on Facebook on Wednesday that CFC (NS) Pang's condition was very serious and needed artificial support for his lungs, kidneys and heart.
Dr Ng added that surgeons and staff at Waikato Hospital in New Zealand where the actor was warded in the intensive care unit, were doing all they could to keep up the support and improve his condition.
Both of CFC (NS) Pang's parents, as well as his two elder brothers, have arrived in Hamilton since Tuesday, accompanied by Singapore Armed Forces family liaison officers.
The actor, who started acting at age nine, had been due to start shooting Channel 8 romantic drama My One In A Million next month after Chinese New Year.
Exercise Thunder Warrior has been conducted since 1997. This year's exercise takes place from J an 5 to 2 Feb, and involves more than 500 personnel from the 268th and 24th Battalions, Singapore Artillery.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.