Woman who died in forest found near old village
The forested area along Upper Bukit Timah Road where a 48-year-old woman was found motionless on Sunday (Dec 19) is an abandoned village known to be a haunt for thrill seekers, checks by The Straits Times revealed.
The Straits Times understands that a concrete slab had fallen on her and she was subsequently taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Four YouTube videos posted within a span of two months before the incident show people hiking among the ruins, colloquially described as Mendoza village, or Mendoza kampung.
Crumbling structures,some about 2m tall, were strewn across the forest floor when The Straits Times visited on Tuesday evening (Dec 21) and Wednesday afternoon.
Traces of a village long gone including shattered glass, stairs overgrown with plants, discarded toilet bowls and pots can be found at the site. A report by the Singapore Free Press on Dec 4, 1958, names "Kampung Mendosa Bukit Timah Road" among seven villages getting electricity.
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Master Plan 2019, the forested area where the abandoned village is located is slated to be used as a park.
Meanwhile, veteran hikers cautioned other hikers to avoid the ruins because of its treacherous terrain.
When the Straits Times visited, fallen trees, thorny vines and waist-deep holes were some common hazards found along unmarked trails.
David Lim, founder of TLC Adventure Tours who visited the ruins earlier this year, said amateur hikers should exercise caution as there are several slopes, hidden pot-holes and no proper well-marked trails.
He said: "Unless you are good with navigation skills, it may be best to follow experienced hikers or guides who know the way."
Joven Chiew, administrator of Facebook group Singapore Hikers, said hikers risk getting charged or fined when entering state land or undeveloped trails.
They should be prepared for the risks of going off trail, said Mr Chiew, which includes not having any mobile reception and the lack of ready access to help.
He noted that hikers should always inform another party about their hikes in case of accidents.
They should also have an online map of the trail, a power bank, a first aid kit, sufficient water and appropriate footwear handy, especially for those who have weak ankles, Mr Chiew added.
A veteran urban explorer, who wanted to be known only as Mr Harry, told The Straits Times the popularity of the area grew after landmarks in the area were shared on geographic database OpenStreetMap. He had visited the ruins twice in 2017 after he and his friends learnt about it from old maps and former residents.
Mr Harry, who has 13 years of experience exploring abandoned parts of Singapore, said: "I wouldn't recommend it because the unstable terrain can easily lead to accidents.
"In December, for example, it is the rainy season so the soil is looser and the ruins are more likely to chip off due to constant rain," he said.
Meanwhile, the Housing Board, which manages the land where the woman was found, declined to respond to queries until police investigations were complete.
Separately, the woman's employer, security firm Aetos, told The Straits Times that it was doing everything it can to assist her family and support them in their time of grief.
A spokesman for the firm said: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Auxiliary Police SGT (APF) Melita Dollah. Melita was an exceptional officer, colleague and friend. A valued member of the AETOS family, she will be missed by all. Melita will also be remembered as a great mother to her children and a loving daughter."