Did good intention cost him his life?

Mr Brian Yu (top left), is the senior and schoolmate of Mr Goh Chuan Kiet (right), the SIM undergraduate who died while on a standup paddle board (bottom left) while out at sea last year.

Mr Goh Chuan Kiet was struggling with the sail on his windsurfing board, as the rain suddenly came down and the waters got choppy.

His senior in school, Mr Brian Yu, who was on a paddleboard, spotted him. Mr Yu suggested that they swap boards so he could paddle back to shore.

Mr Goh agreed.

But he might have possibly been afraid that Mr Yu might get blacklisted for not wearing a life jacket.

So Mr Goh passed his life jacket to Mr Yu, who was not wearing one.

That may have cost Mr Goh his life.

He later disappeared in the sea. His body was found two days later.

Yesterday, a coroner's inquiry into the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) undergraduate's death was heard.

Mr Goh, 23, who was part of the SIM windsurfing club, had attained the Level 1 windsurfing certification in November, the court heard.

This means he is able to go windsurfing on his own without official guidance.

At about 10am on Nov 24 last year, five months after he had joined the SIM windsurfing club, Mr Goh set off from the National Service Resort & Country Club Sea Sports Centre at Changi Coast Walk.

He was with seven other SIM windsurfing club members. One of them was Mr Yu, 24, who took the stand yesterday.

Being the only senior that day, Mr Yu said that he wanted to teach and guide the juniors in windsurfing.

He said he could do so more effectively while surfing on his personal stand-up paddleboard.

As he was rushing out to assist the juniors, he did not get a life jacket from the Constant Wind Sea Sports Centre, a shop which rents out equipment at the centre.

He also said that not using a life jacket was an informal practice among stand-up paddlers and it did not occur to him to wear one.

But Mr Goh had rented a board, sail and life jacket, which he had put on.

It was about noon when Mr Yu noticed that Mr Goh, who was far from the rest of the group, was having difficulty with his sail.

 

STRONGER, ROUGHER

The wind had grown stronger and the sea rougher.

Mr Yu went to Mr Goh and told him to take his paddleboard back to shore as it was easier to manage than the windsurfing board.

He said Mr Goh gave him his life jacket as there was an understanding that Constant Wind's customers must wear life jackets.

Police Investigation Officer Vijay Kumar said the sea sports centre management would blacklist users who did not comply with its safety regulations.

He said in his report that Mr Goh could have handed over his life jacket to prevent Mr Yu from being blacklisted.

Mr Yu said he saw Mr Goh paddle back to the shore and was within the breakwaters. So he went to help the others.

Another SIM windsurfer who was there on that day, Mr Low Junhong, 23, said in court that he saw someone struggling in the water.

But as visibility was poor due to the bad weather and he himself was having difficulty with his windsurfing board, he could not tell if it was his friend of six years.

It was only after a passing craft had thrown Mr Low a lifebuoy that he realised Mr Goh was nowhere in sight.

He jumped into the water to search for Mr Goh, but to no avail.

Constant Wind Sea Sports Centre also sent out rescue boats to join in the search, but Mr Goh's body was found only two days later near the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.

The investigation report stated that he had drowned and there was no foul play.

This article was published on April 23 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.