S’pore woman put into induced coma after Perth accident
Three S'poreans in Aussie holiday crash, one now comatose. Victim's brother says: I'm shocked. She's a careful driver
A Singaporean woman was put into an induced coma after she was seriously injured in a road accident near the wine resort town of Margaret River, about 280km south of Perth in Western Australia.
Miss Heidi Ang, 25, was driving a rented Toyota Corolla hatchback when it was involved in an accident with a Nissan Patrol four-wheel-drive at the junction of Metricup Road and Carter Road in Wilyabrup last Friday afternoon.
Also in the car were her former schoolmates from Nanyang Junior College - Mr Lim Zi Jie, 26, who sat next to her in the front, and Miss Huang Huifang, 25, who was in the back seat. They escaped with minor injuries.
They went there on June 21 for a week's holiday - it was their first trip to Perth - and were due to return to Singapore on Sunday.
Only Mr Lim, a National University of Singapore student, and Miss Huang, a consultant, made the return flight as Miss Ang, who works in an engineering company, was still in intensive care at the Royal Perth Hospital.
The accident occurred while they were driving to a nut and cereal shop near Margaret River, which is known as a wine-growing region and a surfing location.
Miss Huang told The New Paper in a phone interview yesterday: "Everything happened too quickly. One moment, I heard Heidi screaming. The next moment, the Nissan crashed into us."
She said the impact of the crash shattered the windows of their car and dented its right side, trapping Miss Ang in the driver's seat.
Miss Huang and Mr Lim were able to get out of the car with minor cuts. Miss Huang also had a sprained shoulder.
"We were scared. Then we realised that Heidi was motionless in the car," she said.
Their friend was barely conscious and moaning in pain.
"Heidi had glass cuts on her face and I saw a trail of blood dripping from her long-sleeved jacket. I was so shocked," Miss Huang said.
An elderly couple who were passing by called for the police and ambulance before tending to Miss Ang by checking her pulse and warming her with a thermal jacket.
Miss Huang also tried talking to Miss Ang to keep her awake even though she could not respond. The police and an ambulance arrived in about 10 minutes.
Miss Ang was trapped in the wrecked vehicle and firefighters had to remove the doors and the roof of the car to rescue her.
A Western Australia Police spokesman told TNP in an e-mail reply that she was flown in a serious condition to Royal Perth Hospital by a rescue helicopter.
Investigations are ongoing and no charges have been filed at this time, the spokesman said. The driver of the Nissan was unhurt.
Miss Huang said that when she informed Miss Ang's father of the accident, he was calm but sounded worried over the phone.
Miss Ang's parents flew to Perth the next day.
Her older brother, Mr Wilmer Ang, told TNP that he found out about the accident when he got back from work on Friday night.
"I was shocked when I heard about it from my father," he said.
"Heidi was there for a holiday and she was so excited about it. She was always a careful driver and I didn't expect this to happen to her."
He said his sister had three broken ribs and brain damage and was put into an induced coma after she was admitted on Friday. (See report below.)
She was taken off sedative medication on Sunday and has been drifting in and out of consciousness.
Mr Ang said she was making good progress and was able to answer questions by blinking her eyes or squeezing her hands.
Miss Huang regretted that their holiday had ended in tragic circumstances, but she was also relieved that all of them survived the crash.
She was also optimistic about Miss Ang recovery, saying: "I am sure she will be recover quickly. She is a strong girl."
Responding to queries from TNP, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hoped that Miss Ang "will have a full and quick recovery". Its spokesman said the Singapore High Commission in Canberra was in close touch with her family and would continue to render the necessary consular assistance.
We were scared. Then we realised that Heidi was motionless in the car.
- Miss Huang Huifang
WHERE IT HAPPENED
TNP GRAPHICS: NG WENG CHI
Other S'poreans in overseas accidents
Singapore Airlines pilot Benjamin Wu Yonghao, then 32, ran a stop sign at a cross-junction while driving a rented car in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The car hit a four-wheel-drive towing a horse trailer. His two colleagues, Mr Chew Weng Wai and Miss Vanessa Coehlo, were hospitalised.
The Christchurch District Court ordered Wu to pay his injured colleagues NZ$10,000 (S$10,000) each and banned him from driving in the country for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless driving causing injury.
Mr Jonathan Lim, 24, was killed after the Mitsubishi Pajero sports utility vehicle he was in crashed into a wild elephant crossing the road in Thailand's Rayong province, about 220km from Bangkok.
Five people, including the three other occupants in the Pajero, also died in the three-vehicle accident.
Mr Chang Ho Tiong, 52, was driving his colleagues home when a Holden Commodore, driven by a drunk teenager, "lost control and speared into" his vehicle in Melbourne, Australia.
Chang and a Malaysian in the front passenger seat died at the scene. Three others in the back seat survived.
Hotel reservations officer Faridah Siraj Nor, 46, flew to South India on Nov 13 to attend the engagement party of a former colleague.
But tragedy struck when she fell off her motorbike, lost consciousness and died later in hospital.
When is a coma induced?
An induced coma occurs when medication is used to put patients in a comatose state, says Dr Lee Kim En, a consultant neurologist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.
"Patients are put into an induced coma if they have a severe head injury that is an imminent threat to their life," he said.
When the brain has an injury such as bleeding or a contusion, it will usually swell and cause the pressure inside the skull to build up.
If the pressure becomes too intense and is an immediate danger to the patient's life, a team of intensive care specialists will put the patient into an induced coma to reduce brain swelling.
Dr Lee, 48, said a patient could be in an induced coma from a few days to a few weeks.
- TERESA LO