'It was totally traumatic': 2 S'poreans recount Genting tour bus-lorry collision
Marketing manager J. Koh was resting with his eyes closed in a bus en route to Genting Highlands when a sudden collision sent him hurtling face first into the seat in front, leaving him with a blood-soaked mask and a fractured nose.
"Everything in the bus was a mess, my mask felt wet and I figured there was probably blood flowing out," said the 41-year-old Singaporean.
He was among 20 passengers, mostly Singaporeans, travelling on a tour bus run by Singapore operator Transtar Travel that hit a lorry in the wee hours of Wednesday (July 13) morning along the Karak Expressway near Genting Highlands. The highway links Kuala Lumpur to Pahang on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia.
Mr Koh, who declined to give his full name, told The Straits Times on Friday (July 15) that many were asleep when the incident happened at about 5.30am.
He said: "It was totally traumatic... I didn't know what to do, should I take care of my friends or their parents, what happened to the rest of the passengers, did we hit a stationary or moving vehicle?"
Inside the bus that suffered major damage in front, passengers groaned in pain.
Mr Koh had been travelling with four Singaporeans - his friend, her husband Edwin Ng and her parents - for a four-day stay in Genting Highlands and another two nights in Kuala Lumpur, with the bus leaving Singapore on Tuesday night.
Said Mr Ng, who suffered whiplash: "There was blood everywhere and it was not an option to get out of the bus because the expressway started filling up with traffic around 6am."
The system administrator, 42, turned to check on his wife and found her nose bleeding profusely while her parents, who are in their 70s, were lying on the floor of the bus.
"My 75-year-old mother-in-law's face swelled up while my 79-year-old father-in-law had a huge gash in his leg, a broken tooth and abrasions," he said.
The wound on his father-in-law's leg was so severe that a sanitary pad that his wife had on hand could not stop the bleeding.
As the crash damaged the front door of the bus, Mr Ng said he and another passenger had to force open the emergency exit at the back.
About one hour passed before the Malaysian civil defence service whisked all the passengers to two hospitals, he added.
At Selayang Hospital, which is located on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Mr Ng spent an hour queuing to pay about RM1,000 (S$315) for a computed tomography (CT) scan, X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for his mother-in-law. His father-in-law needed four stitches for the gash on his leg.
After Mr Ng's mother-in-law was discharged at around 6pm on Wednesday, the five Singaporeans were more than ready to return home, forking out about RM7,500 to fly back by Singapore Airlines on Thursday for further medical checkups.
Said Mr Ng: "The bus company said they would arrange a bus for us to travel back to Singapore but we already have a phobia of travelling by bus. Even when thinking about driving these days, I feel traumatised."
On hindsight, there would have been fewer injuries if seat belts were available on the bus, Mr Koh said, adding that he would ensure that the buses he took in future had such features.
Responding to queries from ST, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said staff from the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur have met the victims at the hospitals and it is rendering consular assistance to the affected Singaporeans and their families.