Parents shocked she went to KTV bar

I want to know what happened... But my mind is a mess now. All I want is to see my daughter off properly first and take care of my younger one.— Madam Yu Huang (right), mother of accident victim Ye Zhangdan
PHOTO: The New Paper

"Mummy, I'm going downstairs to meet a friend."

Those were 18-year-old Ye Zhangdan's last words to her mother on Tuesday evening.

Barely four hours later, the teenager was fighting for her life after being run over by a taxi. She died from her injuries on Thursday evening.

Her death has raised several questions that still remain unanswered, even as she is to be cremated today.

Miss Ye's behaviour on that evening had been out of character, said her mother, Madam Yu Huang, 39.

Shortly after 8pm on Tuesday, the girl told her mother she was going out to meet a friend. She wore shorts and slippers, without make-up, and took only her mobile phone with her.

"My daughter was very vain and would even put on make-up to accompany me to the nearby wet market," Madam Yu said.

She did not take any money or her flat keys, which made Madam Yu think that her daughter was just going to the coffee shop at the bottom of their block in Yishun Ring Road.

Furthermore, Miss Ye was unfamiliar with the area, having lived in Singapore for only 1½ years, and usually went out only with her mother. "Her social circle was mostly limited to the people I knew, who are also from China, as well as our neighbours," Madam Yu said.

When Miss Ye, who had just turned 18 on July 3, did not return home past 11pm, Madam Yu and her husband started to worry.

Several calls to their daughter's phone went unanswered.

Having to put their four-year-old daughter to bed, the couple decided to leave their room door open so they could hear Miss Ye when she got home.

At about 1am, they got the call every parent dreaded.

"The hospital told us that our daughter had been involved in an accident and was fighting for her life. We were to go down immediately," said Madam Yu, her eyes welling up.

Miss Ye had been hit by a taxi on Sembawang Road at about 12.15am.

Paramedics found that she had no pulse and was not breathing. She was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital unconscious.

At the hospital, the couple met one of Miss Ye's Singaporean friends, whom they know only as "Fatty".

He said he was their daughter's boyfriend.

They were shocked when Fatty said he and Miss Ye had been at a karaoke bar on Sembawang Road, near Jalan Lengkok Sembawang.

MYSTERY

After they left the bar, Miss Ye had crossed to the other side of the road in the direction of home.

It is unclear how she had crossed the road. Madam Yu believes her daughter would have used a nearby overhead pedestrian bridge because Sembawang Road has a centre divider that is about a metre high.

But a witness told Lianhe Wanbao that Miss Ye was seen dashing across the road before the taxi ran over her.

He said that a plump man was seen running across the overhead bridge to Miss Ye and was heard shouting: "It's my fault, it's all my fault."

Miss Ye's parents said they were too distraught to ask Fatty what he meant when he shouted it was his fault.

Speaking at her daughter's wake yesterday with her younger child on her lap, Madam Yu wondered about the questions over her daughter's death.

Choking up, the native of Yunnan, China, said: "I want to know what happened... But my mind is a mess now.

All I want is to see my daughter off properly first and take care of my younger one."

Miss Ye was her daughter from her first marriage in China. It ended in divorce and Miss Ye was raised by her maternal grandparents after her mother went overseas to work.

Madam Yu married a Singaporean in 2008. When Miss Ye finished her secondary school education in China two years ago, her mother wanted her to continue her education in Singapore.

Miss Ye joined her mother only early last year but complications led to her not being able to attend school here. After turning 18 earlier this month, she had planned to apply for a work permit so she could work here and stay close to her mother.

"Her stepfather's friends in the food business offered her jobs. But I said since she's so vain, she can probably work in a nail or beauty salon," Madam Yu said.

The thought of her daughter's future being so tragically snatched away made her break down completely and she had to be helped away by her husband.

The police confirmed the accident and said that investigations are ongoing.

She said her stepdad was 'best father ever'

Madam Yu Huang, 39, divorced her first husband not long after their daughter was born in 1997.

She left little Ye Zhangdan in the care of her parents in Yunnan, south-western China, to find work.

It is unclear how often she saw her daughter after that.

While working in Hat Yai in southern Thailand, she met Singaporean Yuen Teck Lai, 55.

They were married in 2008 and Madam Yu moved to Singapore and gave birth to their daughter in 2011.

The girl, whom Madam Yu described as being very close to her half-sister, is now four years old.

When Miss Ye joined her mother in Singapore last year, Mr Yuen, a boat captain, doted on her like she was his own offspring, his friend of nearly two decades told The New Paper yesterday.

Speaking at Miss Ye's wake, Mr Gan Kim Hock said he would meet Mr Yuen for meals and the latter would tell him how proud he was of his stepdaughter.

"His wife was the stricter one, but he was a straightforward man of few words. Whenever the girl needed anything, he would try his best to give it to her, be it money or anything else," Mr Gan said.

"Once, she even told him that he was the best father she's ever had. He was so proud he kept telling all of us (his group of friends)."

Mr Yuan's only concern was that his stepdaughter was always on her phone, making friends with strangers through chatting applications like WeChat, Mr Gan said.

lawsm@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 18, 2015.
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