It is every parent's nightmare.
First, managing director Ho Sum Kwong found out that his son, Mr Jamie Ho, had died in a horrific road accident on Labour Day.
As if that wasn't enough, the grieving father must now face another blow: His 33-year-old son cannot fit into a standard coffin.
So the elder Mr Ho has to specially customise one for his burly son, who will have to be buried rather than cremated.
"Normal coffins cater to people with a shoulder width of about 53cm. Jamie's shoulders measure about 69cm," Mr Ho told The New Paper yesterday.
His magazine-director son died on the spot after the white Volkswagen he was driving hit a barrier before crashing into a tree along the East Coast Parkway at the Marine Vista exit.
Standard coffins tend to cater to those with shoulder width up to 56cm, said undertaker Roland Tay. Such models would fit those weighing up to 100kg.
The younger Mr Ho weighed about 130kg.
Said Mr Tay: "(Anyone whose shoulder width is) above 63.5cm is considered too big (for cremation). Then, he will have to be buried at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery."
That is the only burial site for the Chinese in Singapore, he said.
Coffins for burial can be up to 90cm wide and 2m long.
When The New Paper visited the wake at Mount Vernon yesterday afternoon, the Mr Jamie Ho's body had not arrived.
The bespectacled elder Mr Ho, who was in a dark shirt and trousers, said: "They are embalming Jamie. We were told it'll take about three hours (to embalm)."
His wife, Madam Maria Anne Ng, had left just minutes earlier to get some rest, he added.
While food and drinks were laid out outside the hall, no one was in the mood to eat. About 10 mourners sat at three tables, talking in hushed tones.
Pointing to one table, where newspapers carried accounts of the accident across their front pages, a stoic Mr Ho said there was little choice but to be strong.
"No matter what I say or do, nothing will bring Jamie back," he said.
The accident also killed the front seat passenger, Ms Chen Ren Yi, 24, Taiwanese national, who died on the spot.
Those at the rear, Singaporean Lim Siew Imm, 28, Taiwanese Hsiao Ya Fang, 24, Ms Chen Wen Chen, 24 and Mr Chen Cheng Min, 30, were injured.
They were sent to Changi General Hospital.
Ms Hsiao had reportedly suffered the least severe injuries. TNP understands she is likely to be discharged in the next day or two. A male companion kept vigil at her bedside as she ate dinner.
The fair and slim Ms Hsiao declined to speak with reporters. She wore her dyed hair loose and cuddled a stuffed toy that blocked her upper body. There were no visible scars or scratches on her face.
Mr Xie Fa Da, Taipei representative in Singapore, told Chinese paper Lianhe Wanbao that the four Taiwanese worked in Singapore. The three women were with the same company.
Caught on video
Driving instructor Lim Hai Hong had uploaded a video of the accident onto social networking site Facebook.
The 30-year-old was heading towards the ferry terminal with a friend wen the accident happened. His in-car camera captured the incident.
"The white car (that Mr Ho drove) appeared after I completed my lane change," Mr Lim recalled. "The car then sped across three lanes, hit the kerb, (then) the tree and flipped over."
A shocked Mr Lim added that he had been driving at around 100kmh.
"The white car was (going faster)."
His video was shared more than 1,100 times by 7pm yesterday.
This article was published on May 3 in The New Paper.
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