Man breaks legs trying to catch maid who fell 14 storeys

SINGAPORE - He is a cleaning supervisor from Malaysia. She was an Indonesian maid.

As foreigners working at Tanamera Crest condominium, they had smiled at each other and spoken briefly.

Then, on July 10, she fell into his arms in the worst way imaginable - she had plunged from the 14th storey and he had tried to catch her.

Though Mr Rozaimi Zainal (above), 36, managed to get his outstretched arms to her plummeting body, the impact sent him sprawling to the ground, shattering the bones in his left leg.

He was then pinned down by her lifeless body, unable to move until he was rescued.

When The New Paper visited Mr Rozaimi at Changi General Hospital (CGH) on Wednesday evening, he recalled the horrific incident.

He was at ground level when he saw the maid, who was working for a resident in the condominium at 6, Pari Dedap Walk, standing on a ledge at the highest floor of a block.

"She was standing there and she looked scared," he said.

"I shouted up at her, 'Don't jump! Don't jump!' Then she lay down on the ledge and rolled off." He stretched out his arms and her body landed on them. He said: "Her head was on my left arm and her legs on my right. But I couldn't save her."

A spokesman for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call at 4.10pm on July 10 about the incident and sent an ambulance, which took the injured Mr Rozaimi to CGH.

Painful

A police spokesman said the woman was in her 30s and investigations are ongoing.

Mr Rozaimi, who underwent his third operation on Wednesday, said: "It's painful and the doctor says I have to be here for at least another seven weeks. The bones in my leg are all shattered." His left leg was bandaged and metal rods were sticking out from it.

He said his medical bills would be covered by insurance and he trusted his company to settle the paperwork for him.

"I'm quite traumatised. I find it hard to sleep at night," he said.

"I managed to catch her, but she died anyway. I see her body every time I close my eyes."

The divorced man with a 14-year-old daughter said he did not have much of an impression of the maid, but she had not seemed depressed the few times they had spoken briefly.

"She was always looking after her employer's children and did not seem upset about anything when we greeted each other," he said.

Professor Joseph Thambiah, the head and senior consultant at National University Hospital's division of musculoskeletal trauma, said it is impossible to save someone falling from that height and that Mr Rozaimi could have died too.

When falling bodies can cause death, injuriesClick on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, TNP, Internet)

 

When asked why he had risked his life to save the maid, Mr Rozaimi said: "I don't know where I got the courage or why I tried.

"But if it were to happen again with the same consequence, I would try again.

"As a human being, as a fellow person, it is my duty to at least try to save another person's life." When TNP visited the maid's employer at his penthouse unit on Wednesday, he would say only that he had told the police everything.

His neighbours declined to comment.

A gardener at the condominium said residents and workers there had been talking about the incident.

"It happened at about 4pm at Block 6. The cleaning supervisor tried to catch the maid, but he broke his leg. We have not seen him at work since," he said, adding that the other maids in the condominium did not know the dead maid well.

Help people

Mr Rozaimi's supervisor, Mr Randy Low, from Starlike Maintenance Services, said his employees would often go the extra mile to help people.

He commended Mr Rozaimi, saying what he did took a lot of courage.

"He did something most people would not do. He broke his leg while trying to save her and I think that shows that he is a good man."

When falling bodies can cause death, injuriesClick on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, TNP, Internet)

OTHER CASES

SINGAPORE

2011

A 48-year-old administrative assistant who was slipping into depression leapt from a block in Bishan and landed on a 54-year-old retiree who was on her way home after buying lunch. The two women, who died on the spot, lived four storeys apart in the same block.

2006

A man in his 30s tried to commit suicide by jumping off the third storey of a block in Hougang. He landed on a six-year-old girl and survived. The girl broke her thigh bone.

He was sentenced to nine months' supervised probation.

ELSEWHERE

China, last month

A little girl, left alone at home by her parents in Ninghai, Zhejiang province, crawled out through a window, reported BBC News.

Delivery men caught her with outstretched arms as she fell from the fifth storey of the building. At least two of the men were injured. The girl escaped with a minor facial wound.

India, 2010

A mentally challenged youth, 25, jumped off a water tank in a bid to kill himself, only to land on a 55-year-old man standing below to watch the drama unfold, reported The Times of India.

The youth was reported to have escaped with minor injuries while the onlooker ended up with a fractured leg.

US, 2009

A woman in her 50s jumped to her death from the third floor of the Queens Center Mall in New York. She landed on a high school student, 17, who was relaxing on a massage chair below, reported The New York Times.

The student survived but had a gash on his head so large that it required 23 staples.

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