Father & son rescue man flung into canal after lorry crash

SINGAPORE - What was supposed to be a quiet Sunday morning turned into a life-saving attempt after his wife shook him awake.

Mr Hari L.R. Arjunan, 38, was sound asleep when his wife, Madam Shantha, woke him, telling him frantically that someone had fallen into the canal next to their flat.

Madam Shantha, 36, a housewife, said: "I heard a loud noise and my dog was barking nonstop. So I looked out the window.

"I saw a lorry on its side and I rushed to wake my husband. I told him to go help because nobody was helping."

The accident happened on Sunday at around 7.40am on the Pan Island Expressway (PIE), near the Jurong East Avenue 1 exit.

All nine people in the lorry - all foreign workers - were injured when the vehicle was thrown onto its side after a BMW collided with it.

The driver and a worker in the front seat were trapped and later freed. The others who sat in the back were flung off during the collision.

The impact threw one of the workers several metres into the canal, while the others were left scattered on the highway and near the canal.

Two of them had spinal injuries while the rest had injuries to their face, head and hands. The New Paper understands that the lorry driver was among the injured.

The BMW driver, who is believed to be in his 20s and suspected of drink driving, was reportedly not injured, even though his car was badly damaged.

Mr Arjunan said: "I rushed down with my son to see what the commotion was about. I was curious at first, because there were so many people there. I wanted to find out what was happening."

His son, Prakash, 11, told TNP that two other injured men were lying on a narrow strip of concrete between the highway and the canal.

Mr Arjunan saw a man floating face down in the canal.

"At first I thought he was dead, but after looking at him for a while I realised he was still breathing - there were air bubbles coming out from under him," he said.

The operations manager said he sprung into action after that.

"Everyone was standing there and shouting. The onlookers were mainly older folk who couldn't help, so I knew I had to do something," he said.

Gripping the bars of the railings, Mr Arjunan swung himself over and jumped into the knee-deep water in the 2.5m-deep canal and quickly waded over to the man.

He said: "I really didn't think of anything else, I didn't think of the depth. I got a few minor scratches, but all I was focused on was to try and save the man."

After he turned the man around, he saw that the worker was unconscious and bleeding profusely from the mouth.

With no way of climbing out of the canal as there were no steps, he called out to bystanders. Two other men jumped into the canal to help.

"My son offered to go get a ladder so we could bring the man out. By this time, there were medics around. We just had to figure out how to bring him up safely," he said.

Prakash ran home to get the ladder. As the lift took too long to arrive, the boy ran down four storeys with the ladder, which is taller than him, in tow.

"I wasn't scared. I just wanted to get the ladder to my father as soon as I could so we could help the man," the boy said.

The Primary 5 pupil from Jurong Primary School had to run down eight flights of stairs and down a slippery grass slope to reach them.

He then lowered the ladder down into the canal, and his father brought it to the side nearer to the road, where medics were waiting.

Mr Arjunan and the two other men lifted the injured worker up and passed him to the medics.

Saved in time

He said: "I'm just glad we managed to save the guy in time, because he was bleeding so much and so badly injured. I heard someone saying that he might be in a worse state if we didn't get to him in time."

He said he was very proud of his son.

Madam Shantha said: "I'm so happy that my husband and son could help. It was very quick thinking on their part, especially Prakash for suggesting and getting the ladder, as the other people who were watching weren't able to help."


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