Picking up the pieces after horror crash
SINGAPOREAN Jennel Ng was on a cycling trip with her Chilean husband and 16-month-old son in north-eastern Thailand when a pickup rammed into the bicycles she and her husband were riding.
They were on Mittraphap Road in Bua Lai district on Feb 21 when tragedy struck.
"I lost consciousness and when I woke up moments later, I was in the middle of the road and all my belongings were scattered on the road.
"I also felt extreme pain in my left leg," said Madam Ng, speaking to The New Paper via Skype from her hospital bed in Thailand.
Despite the pain, her immediate thoughts went to her son, Lukas, and husband Francisco Villa Honotaro.
Lukas had been travelling in a mini carriage attached to her husband's bicycle.
She had been riding in front of her husband, on her own bicycle.
"(After the accident happened), I saw a bystander carrying Lukas and he showed me that apart from a few bruises, my son was okay," said Madam Ng, who used to teach at Bukit Panjang Government High School.
"Next I thought, 'Where is my husband?' "
It was a question she did not get an answer to until much later.
Madam Ng and her family were taken to the nearby Bua Yai Hospital, almost 400km from Bangkok.
But no one told her what had happened to her husband, increasing her anxiety.
"I thought, 'Maybe he is paralysed and in a coma, that is why I haven't seen him,' " she said.
But the reality was grimmer.
"A doctor came into (my room) and told me that he died on the spot from a brain haemorrhage," said Madam Ng, who had suffered a broken fibula and ankle.
"I...paused and then I just cried," she said.
Her only consolation was that Lukas had emerged from the accident with only minor bruises, thanks to the baby car seat attached securely in the carriage pulled along by her husband.
Madam Ng, who is still recovering from her injuries at the hospital, said that the days after the accident were traumatic, and not just because of her injuries and grief.
She had to make arrangements for the funeral while fielding questions on the accident from Thai police.
Newspaper Bangkok Post reported that the pickup driver had been charged with reckless driving resulting in death and injury.
"My elderly parents wanted to come up (to Thailand), but I told them not to because I did not want to trouble them," she said.
"Various groups from all over the world and officers from the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok have come forward to show their concern and tried to (offer) me help," she added.
A spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok rendered consular assistance to Madam Ng, and that they were in touch with her and her family.
The couple had always made plans together. The accident happened in the midst of an ambitious adventure to fulfil their dream of cycling around the world (see other report).
Now, Madam Ng is steeling herself to face a very different challenge - that of raising her son on her own.
"I'm thankful for all the help that I have been given. But I'm very worried about how I'm going to be able to raise my son all alone," she said, wiping away tears.
"I know I need to find a job to ensure that I can provide Lukas with a good future, but I worry about who is going to take care of him when I go to work as I don't want to trouble my elderly parents or my siblings," she added.
Madam Ng said she will return to Singapore after her leg heals, which she estimates will take up to another month or so.
She plans to live with her parents when she does.
"As a single parent, I know there is going to be a lot of adjustment for me. I'm just worried about whether he (Lukas) can still have a happy childhood," she said.
THE NEW PAPER