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Canal crash: Tragedy struck after a normal family Sunday

SINGAPORE — After the family had enjoyed a day out together having lunch, followed by a massage at Le Imperial Hotel, Mr Robin Poon asked his wife Yep Lay Choo if she would like to have dinner with him and his friend. But she said no, opting to spend time with their 22-year-old daughter Kimberly Poon Hui Yin instead.

SINGAPORE — After the family had enjoyed a day out together having lunch, followed by a massage at Le Imperial Hotel, Mr Robin Poon asked his wife Yep Lay Choo if she would like to have dinner with him and his friend. But she said no, opting to spend time with their 22-year-old daughter Kimberly Poon Hui Yin instead.

Hours later, he received a call from the police asking if his wife drove a Mercedes, and whether his wife and daughter had dinner at Valley Point Shopping Centre. 

“I knew it was not very good, so I immediately called my daughter and wife’s phone, but both (their) phone (lines) were off. So I knew something was wrong,” Mr Poon said.

The two women died on Sunday night after the silver Mercedes they were in plunged into the Singapore River at Alexandra Canal after exiting the shopping centre. 

Paramedics pronounced both dead at the scene.

Grappling with the loss of both his wife and his only child today (Jan 25), Mr Poon, 50, a car workshop owner, said his wife, 52, was a skillful driver with more than 20 years of driving experience, and was even licensed to drive a lorry.

Mr Poon, who has seen CCTV footage of the car leaving the mall and believes his wife was behind the wheel, told reporters at the wake today: “It’s really ridiculous, (with) my wife’s driving skills, this kind of thing should not happen.”

His wife had never been in an accident before, he added. “All they can tell (me) is (that the car) skidded.”

Mr Poon and relatives were at the Health Sciences Authority's Mortuary in the morning to collect the bodies of mother and daughter. The bodies were then brought to Woodlands Street 41 for the wake, which began late this afternoon.

Mr Poon, who has been in the car workshop business for thirty years, said all their cars were regularly maintained. The family has owned the Mercedes that crashed into the river for about three years, but his wife had not been driving it frequently until recently. He added that his daughter preferred to drive her own car.

Speaking fondly of his wife, Mr Poon continued: “She is fantastic...(Her family business does) delivery, oil transportation ... She’s a super hardworking woman.”

On ACRA, Mdm Yep is listed as director of LHYK Marine, a ship chartering company, as well Lee Huat Yap Kee, a logistics company. Mdm Yep’s brother, 53-year-old Mr Yep Tai Sai, told reporters at the wake that he was still in shock. “(When) something like that (happened suddenly), we don’t know what to do,” said Mr Yep, who is one of her three siblings.

Mdm Yep, the second child in her family, had been a human resource manager in their family business since she was about 25 years old, and was a workaholic who would even work on Sundays, he said. 

Kimberly, he said, was “like an older sister” to his two sons aged 15 and 16. and their families would get together every month. “My niece (Kimberly) is very cute and friendly, she can get along with my sons. Every time we have lunch gatherings, they will chat all the way,” said Mr Yep, adding she would share advice, such as which schools to choose.

Mr Poon said Kimberly, who was studying at SIM university, was a “nice, simple girl”.

“She (doesn’t) have many friends ... she only (had) a few good friends... she’s sheltered; she’s our only princess.”

The family made a point of holidaying together at least once a year, and he and his daughter would also take spontaneous trips to places like Bangkok for shopping, or he would go café-hopping with her as both of them liked desserts. He added that Kimberly was planning for a Chinese New Year trip to Macau next month.

Friends and relatives began arriving for the wake around 5.30pm, and most declined to speak to the media when approached. One couple, who only wanted to be called Mr and Mrs Lau, said they had known Mdm Yep for more than 15 years through grassroots activities at Hougang. Looking visibly distraught, both said that they were “very shocked” when they first learnt of the news.

Asked about how he felt last night when he received the news, Mr Poon said: “Last night I couldn’t cry. I just cannot get myself to accept the fact that those two hours could make so much difference.”

“I feel really lost now,” he added.

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