Wrong place, wrong time

SINGAPORE - He was here on a holiday with friends when he ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Hong Kong tourist Andy Chui Chun Hin, 34, became the victim of a freak accident that cost him his life.

A coroner's inquiry into the death of the bank manager on Monday was told that a group of tourists were walking to the Singapore Flyer at the time.

Mr Chui trailed the group as he was taking photographs of the area.

Then a marquee structure that was part of a fashion festival toppled and landed on Mr Chui, causing him to suffer severe brain damage and fractures to his skull, pelvis and ribs.

He was certified brain dead and taken off life support five days later.

The coroner's court heard that Mr Chui arrived in Singapore with 12 friends and their families on May 15 this year.

The next morning, they took a shuttle bus at 8.45am from Resorts World Sentosa to Marina Bay Sands. They were staying at Hotel Michael.

They then walked to the Singapore Flyer, where they planned to board a chartered bus to go to Legoland in Johor, Malaysia.

They were on Raffles Avenue towards the junction of Temasek Avenue and Raffles Avenue at 9.56am when tragedy struck.

Mr Chui's friends heard a loud sound and a scream from behind them. They turned around and saw Mr Chui beneath the marquee structure, with only his legs sticking out.

A woman driving along Temasek Avenue had seen the structure topple and hit Mr Chui. No one else was nearby.

Mr Chui's friends and passers-by lifted the structure and pulled him out.

His eyes were closed and he was bleeding from his nose, mouth and the back of his head, the court heard.

One of his friends, nurse Wong Wai Ching from Hong Kong, checked his pulse and found it weak. She then performed chest compressions on him.

EMERGENCY SURGERY

Someone called the police and a private ambulance arrived soon after, followed by an ambulance from the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

Mr Chui was taken to the Singapore General Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to stabilise fractures at his pelvic area. He also underwent a major blood transfusion.

But his brain injuries were too severe and a test on May 20 showed that he was brain dead.

He was taken off life support the next day and died at 2.05pm.

His parents and younger brother were in court during Monday's inquest.

His mother, Madam Leong Po Chui, 66, was heartbroken when he had to be taken off life support.

She told The New Paper in Cantonese: "I was suffering. I cried and cried until I almost went blind."

The retiree said she is still seeing a psychiatrist as she was traumatised by what happened to her son.

She described Mr Chui, who had a girlfriend, as someone who was hardworking.

"He was a filial son. He would give us monthly allowance. He was also studying part-time while working," Madam Leong said.

"Just when he was finally seeing the light and getting a big break in his career, this happened. We have lost someone we could depend on."

The police had ruled out foul play.

State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid found that Mr Chui had died from multiple injuries.

He also found that the structure was unstable and that it had not been submitted for endorsement by a professional engineer.

He left it to the State to take the necessary action.

MARQUEE STRUCTURE UNSTABLE, NOT ENDORSED

The marquee structure that toppled on Mr Andy Chui Chun Hin, 34, was found to be unstable, an inquest into his death found on Monday.

It was also not endorsed by a professional engineer - a requirement under the law.

The coroner's court heard that the 5m-high marquee structure was erected at Raffles Avenue, near the junction of Raffles Avenue and Temasek Avenue.

The aluminium frame had plywood signboards displaying an advertisement for the Audi Fashion Festival, held at the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix Pit Area from May 15 to 19.

Event organiser Mercury Event had engaged Lian Yick Metal Tents to construct five structures - three tentages, a raised platform for catwalks and one cable crossing.

Mr Lee Chow Khoon, the principal structural engineer of Watt Engineering Consultants, endorsed the design drawings of the structures and was satisfied they were safe after an on-site stability inspection.

UNAWARE

But he was unaware of a sixth structure being built and no approval was sought from him.

Mr Lee testified on Monday: "If they had informed me from the onset that they were going to erect another structure, I would have assisted them."

Investigations showed that just before the festival, Mercury Event had instructed Lian Yick to construct the marquee structure that later toppled.

Plywood signboards featuring advertisements for the fashion festival were attached to the structure by another company, Right-Space.

Mercury Event managing director Jeremy Tan Yew Heng said the Singapore Tourism Board had approached his company to organise the fashion festival.

Asked by State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid whether the illegal structure was erected at the last minute, he said there was meant to be six structures.

"During the event set-up, they forgot one structure," he said.

When Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Soo Tet asked him whether separate endorsements were needed, he said:

"I didn't know whether there were two professional engineer endorsements but to me, they are the same structure."

To which Mr Imran said: "Same but different."

A report by the Meteorological Services Singapore showed the surface wind at the location on May 16 as 5kmh to 25kmh and wind gusting of 45kmh. There was rain the night before and heavy rain between 5am and 5.50am.

A structural stability analysis showed that the wind gusting of 45kmh could have produced a force more than eight times what the structure could take before toppling.

The report concluded that the combination of windy conditions and unstable structure with inappropriate installation could have caused it to fall.

BCA: WE ARE INVESTIGATING

The Building & Construction Authority (BCA) is investigating the events leading up to the May 16 incident for any contravention of the Building Control (Temporary Buildings) Regulations.

A BCA spokesman told The New Paper that it will not hesitate to take action against any errant party.

She said: "The erection of any temporary building/structure which may affect the safety of the public requires a Temporary Building Permit, unless it is explicitly exempted in the regulations.

"The applicant of the permit is required to engage a Professional Engineer to design, supervise and inspect the erection of such a temporary building/ structure."

Those who contravene the regulations can be fined up to $5,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

Audi Fashion Festival 2013's event organiser Mercury Marketing and Communications and title sponsor Audi declined to comment, citing police investigations.

Get The New Paper for more stories.

CLARIFICATION: In the article, 'Wrong place, wrong time', published in The New Paper on December 31, 2013, Mercury Event managing director Jeremy Tan Yew Heng said the Singapore Tourism Board had approached his company to organise the fashion festival. The Singapore Tourism Board clarified with AsiaOne that it did not approach Mercury Event to organise the Audi Fashion Festival.