Good Samaritans taken on S. Korea tour

Senior technician Mohamed Zakkaria (first from left), sales manager Er Sing Yee (third from left) and her colleagues Ekwin Chua (fourth from left) and Diana Bregente (fifth from left) were among the passers-by who helped South Korean man Kim Seong Mo who was pinned under a trailer truck.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The parents of a South Korean man who was rescued from under a truck by a group of civic-minded passers-by in Singapore have met some of their son's rescuers to convey their gratitude.

Nine of these good Samaritans have received not only merit awards from the Singapore Civil Defence Force but also a free four-day tour to Seoul sponsored by the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO).

They arrived in Seoul yesterday and met Mr Kim Seong Mo's parents over dinner at Korean restaurant Bongwoori. "We are really thankful that you saved our son's life," Mr Kim's mother said to them in a mixture of English and Korean.

Mr Kim, 35, returned to Seoul after the incident but he was unable to meet his rescuers as he was undergoing physiotherapy for his fractured right leg. His parents said he is "still a bit traumatised over the accident", but will likely recover in about four months' time.

Mr Kim was in Singapore on a business trip in July when he was hit by a truck at the junction of Bendemeer Road and Boon Keng Road. His desperate cry for help prompted more than 30 people to step forward and partially raise the heavy vehicle to free him - a heroic act that was caught on video and went viral on social media.

One of the rescuers, senior technician Mohamed Zakkaria, 38, ditched his motorcycle to dash across the road to help. He recalled it was an elderly man who first suggested tilting the truck.

"Everyone started pushing. It was not coordinated initially but we got organised and a guy managed to pull the victim out," he said.

Sales manager Ekwin Chua, 39, also helped to push the truck while his female colleagues, Ms Er Sing Yee, 31, and Ms Diana Bregente, 36, called the ambulance, shaded the victim with an umbrella and kept his bag safe. "I exerted all my strength for the day, so much that I couldn't even release my car's handbrake with my hand," said Mr Chua.

Ms Er added that their boss was so proud of them that he reported to the company's United States headquarters that "we have heroes in our office". The trio said they were surprised at KTO's generosity and appreciated the efforts to plan a tour that includes visits to the royal palace and a kimchi factory.

KTO deputy director Kim Moon Joon, who hosted a dinner for the group, said the firm wanted to thank them for saving a fellow countryman who is also its trade partner. Mr Kim is a sales manager with Grand Hyatt Seoul, which works closely with KTO.

Singapore Ambassador to South Korea Yip Wei Kiat also met the good Samaritans at his residence yesterday. "I really admire their public spiritedness," he said, adding the incident also highlights the friendship between Singapore and South Korea. The two countries celebrate 40 years of bilateral ties this year.

This article was first published on Sept 15, 2015.
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