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Choa Chu Kang Cemetery
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CHOA CHU KANG CEMETERY HORROR
Metal rod roots her to ground
By Celine Lim (The New Paper)

November 14, 2006

IT was like she was nailed to the spot.
Clinging to a marble statue of the Virgin Mary, she had to remain there, her left foot about 5cm off the ground, for some 20 minutes.

A rusty metal rod sticking out of a concrete block in the undergrowth had skewered her foot in mid-step in a freak accident at the Choa Chu Kang Christian Cemetery around 10am on 5 Nov.

The rod, which was more than 50cm long, pierced right through the canvas shoe of Miss Doris Pestana Yeo.

It remained in her foot for about 12 hours before it was removed in hospital.

Miss Yeo, 53, spoke to The New Paper on Wednesday after she was discharged from the National University Hospital.

The part-time receptionist said: ‘It’s a good thing I go social dancing four or five times a week. That’s why I had the stamina to keep my foot up.’

FLASH OF PAIN

Miss Yeo and three of her relatives were there for prayers following All Souls’ Day on 2 Nov. They had brought candles and flowers and she was about 1m from her father’s grave when she felt a flash of pain and called out, ‘Something poked my leg.’

Said her niece, Miss Joanna Wee: ‘We thought a twig had caught my aunt’s shoe, but my mum couldn’t pull it out. Then I tried and realised it was metal. That was when my mum screamed!’

She called to her uncle, and they dug through the undergrowth and found that the rod was embedded in concrete.

Miss Wee, 25, who works in the engineering industry, then called the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

‘I asked them to hurry as my aunt is diabetic,’ she said.

While her uncle waited for the SCDF at the main road, Miss Wee and her mother tried to help MMiss Yeo.

She said: ‘At first, I was speechless. My foot was bleeding but it stopped.

‘I started thinking, ‘Can I still go out tonight?’ Then I saw my sister screaming and everyone panicking so I thought I’d better not.’

She had planned to watch a show with some friends that night, and the tickets were with her. She fished out her handphone and asked her niece to call her friends to pick up their tickets.

Then, an elderly couple walked by. The man went to get help and returned with a wire cutter from the cemetery’s caretaker. He cut the rod as Miss Wee and her mother supported Miss Yeo.

‘We’d like to contact the kind couple so we can thank them properly. They also gave me their umbrella for shelter from the sun,’ Miss Yeo said.

The SCDF arrived soon after that.

HOSPITAL

‘A fire engine, an ambulance and a support appliance van were despatched to the cemetery,’ an SCDF spokesman said. ‘SCDF officers then walked 50m with their equipment to where Miss Yeo was as the vehicles could not be driven down the narrow lane, which had many cars parked along it.

‘Miss Yeo was placed on a stretcher and the officers made their way out, avoiding the graves and manoeuvering cautiously across a wooden plank ‘bridge’ over a drain.’

It was noon when Miss Yeo arrived at the hospital. There, her shoe was removed and she was given a tetanus jab and antibiotics.

‘The nurses were surprised that I didn’t faint and kept my cool, but I did worry about losing my leg,’ she said.

Associate Professor Aziz Nather, a senior consultant who specialises in diabetic foot problems, said: ‘I’ve never seen a case like this in my 30 years in the medical field. Luckily, the rod did not destroy any nerves or arteries… Otherwise it would have been a complicated surgery.’

As Miss Yeo’s operation was done under anaesthetic, he explained that her stomach had to be empty for six hours.

At 10pm, she was wheeled into the operating theatre. Her foot had to be cut open over the length of the rod. She was given one month’s medical leave.

A National Environment Agency (NEA) spokesman said: ‘The implicated location is an existing grave without tombstone. Maintenance of graves is undertaken by the next-of-kin.

‘NEA will contact the next-of-kin to remove the concrete piece from the grave. In the meantime, the grave will be cordoned off.’

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