Cabby braves bee swarm to save a life
TERRINA Kaur Sandhu was midway through her weekly run around her neighbourhood when she felt a stinging pain on her back.
The 22-year-old, who was running along Bedok South Avenue 1 on the evening of New Year's Day, started to hear a cacophonous buzz and realised she was being attacked by a swarm of bees.
"There was a cloud of them behind me, I ran past this tree and they started attacking me from the back," said the Nanyang Technological University undergraduate.
She ran and tried flagging down passing cars, but only one driver stopped to wind down his window and pass her two bottles of water and a jacket.
"I poured water on my back and put on the jacket, but the bees were still all over my back," she said.
In her panic, Miss Terrina tripped and fell. As she was writhing on the ground, with the bees continuing to attack her, she heard a voice yell at her to get up and run.
The voice belonged to Comfort cabby Muhamad Haniff, 52, who had seen Miss Terrina being pursued by the swarm and had stopped just ahead, despite having passengers in his taxi.
"I told my passengers that she needed help," he said. As he ran over, he took off his shirt to swat the insects and cover the woman.
The duo started running, and eventually got far enough to lose most of the swarm.
But by this time, Miss Terrina had been stung so many times that she "had trouble breathing", said Mr Haniff.
He flagged down a cab and paid the driver $10 to take Miss Terrina to Changi General Hospital.
"I didn't have money or a phone with me," she said. "(Mr Haniff) called my family and, after he dropped his passengers, he went to the hospital to look for me."
Later that night, he visited her again.
"I was really worried, I saw her being stung so many times and just wanted to make sure she was okay," said the father of three, who was stung once himself.
Miss Terrina was stung more than 20 times. She was discharged after being hospitalised for a night.
Grateful for his help, she wrote in to The Straits Times Forum pages on Jan 9, thanking Mr Haniff for his "compassion and bravery". Her family also sent him a hamper after he refused to accept a monetary reward.
"I didn't want any reward. All I thought of as I stopped was that if I didn't help her, she could die," said the taxi driver of 18 years.
Cab operator ComfortDelGro has commended him for his "truly selfless act".
"It takes real courage to risk one's life for a friend, what more a complete stranger," said group corporate communications officer Tammy Tan.