Good Samaritan says Tampines crash victim kept calling for daughter, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Good Samaritan says Tampines crash victim kept calling for daughter

The sarong-clad Good Samaritan who helped victims and directed traffic after the fatal Tampines accident, which killed two people on April 22, said he is still haunted by flashbacks.

Mr Sheikh Imran Sheikh Ahmad, 40, especially remembers how Mr Muhammad Azril, the driver of a Honda Stream that had turned turtle, repeatedly cried out his daughter’s name while trapped in their car.

The girl, Afifah Munirah Muhammad Azril, 17, who had also been in the accident, died in hospital that day.

Madam Norzihan Juwahib, 57, a senior technician at pest control firm First Choice Pest Specialist, also died. She had been a passenger in the company’s van, which was one of the six vehicles involved in the crash.

Mr Imran, a property agent, spoke to The Straits Times on April 24 at the junction of Tampines Avenue 1 and Tampines Avenue 4, where the accident happened.

In several videos online, the father of five children, aged one to 12, could be seen directing traffic at the junction after the accident, clad in a long-sleeved grey shirt and a chequered sarong.

That day, Mr Imran had just taken three of his children to school in Braddell, and was driving back to his Tampines flat with his wife in the front passenger seat.

He was wearing a sarong, as that was his attire for his usual morning prayers, which he had done earlier before leaving home.

They were third in line at the junction when he heard a loud crash and saw smoke billowing in front.

He said: “We were shocked for about two seconds. I saw someone go up to the (overturned) car and try to open the door, but it didn’t budge. So I felt I needed to help.”

He parked his car by the side of the road and went forward, where he saw bystanders trying to help Mr Azril.

Said Mr Imran: “My first instinct was to give the person inside some air because I could see he was still moving. So I forced the door open, or whatever was left of the car, and I was asking (Mr Azril), ‘Are you okay? Can you move?’”

He said Mr Azril, who had a bloodshot eye, told him that he was in pain and that his daughter was in the car.

When Mr Imran saw a girl clad in a Temasek Junior College shirt lying motionless on the road, his heart sank.

He said Mr Azril could not see Afifah and kept calling her name.

He added: “The other bystanders and I decided not to tell him that was his daughter.

“I am a father, so I felt how he felt... when your daughter is gone like this, and you don’t know where she is and you can’t get out to see her.”

Mr Azril, a Police Coast Guard officer, was taking Afifah to a school event in their car when the crash happened. He suffered kidney- and spine-related injuries.

Five other people, including two 11-year-old boys, were also taken to hospital.

Afifah and Madam Norzihan were buried at Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery on April 23, and their graves were just one plot apart.

As Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and police officers arrived at the accident scene, Mr Imran hauled debris away from the junction and helped to direct traffic.

The crash had caused a major traffic jam, with drivers honking and trying to cut across blocked-off lanes.

Mr Imran guided cars into the correct lanes.

He said: “When you’re driving and there’s an accident, you will look at the accident. I believe that can cause more accidents because you’re looking and don’t pay attention.”

He stayed at the scene for around 45 minutes before he went home, which is about a three-minute drive from the scene.

That afternoon, he had to compose himself before leaving home again to fetch his children from school.

He said: “It took me about 10 to 15 minutes before I could drive off, because I was just sitting and thinking this could have happened to anyone.

“Every time I drive past here, I can still hear the father’s (Mr Azril’s) words. It’s just very sad.”

As Mr Imran was speaking to ST, three of Madam Norzihan’s family members came to the accident site.

Gazing quietly at the 40 or so bouquets left by members of the public beside a board placed by the police appealing for witnesses, one of them said: “We’re just here to visit.”

The SCDF said on April 22 that several members of the public, including a nurse and two off-duty SCDF officers, helped the injured after the accident, and it will be commending them for their public spiritedness.

On April 24, one of the drivers of the vehicles involved in the accident, a 42-year-old man, was arrested for dangerous driving causing death after he was discharged from hospital.

On his decision to help, Mr Imran said: “Hopefully by doing so, in the future if there are any other accidents, people will not be afraid to step up.”