Kayakers find body in Pandan River: 'I saw the tattoos on the man's back and his white hair'

Jessie Lim
The Straits Times
Aug 22, 2022

When Mr Rich Liow, 47, set out for a kayaking expedition on Monday (Aug 22) morning with his friends, he did not expect that they would end up in Pandan River, where they discovered the body of a man.

The group had planned to kayak from West Coast to Pulau Hantu, but decided to detour to Pandan River when they realised they did not have a safety boat to help them navigate the open seas.

While crossing the river, Mr Liow saw what he first thought was a gunny sack floating on the water.

Speaking to The Straits Times, the sales manager said: "We got closer and then I saw the tattoos on the man's back and his white hair.

"I remembered reading in the news that a man had allegedly fallen into the same river just yesterday, so we decided to call the Police Coast Guard for help."

On Monday, the police confirmed that they received a call for assistance at 9.57am.

The police said: "The body of a 60-year-old man was subsequently retrieved from the waters. Based on preliminary investigations, the police do not suspect foul play.

"The man was reported missing by his next-of-kin on Sunday."

The Straits Times understands that the body is of the man who was reported to have fallen into Pandan River on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call for water rescue at about 6.50am at the canal near Block 291E Bukit Batok Street 24.

The emergency responders also searched the area around Block 408 Pandan Gardens and along the canal nearby.

SCDF said: "The search operation was called off after 4½ hours as there was no sign of the person."

In an separate statement on Monday, SCDF said it received a call for assistance at the river at 10.15am and its firefighters helped to bring the body back on land.

While waiting for the authorities, Mr Liow and his friends fended off otters that tried to approach the body.

Even after the police and SCDF arrived, the kayakers remained at the scene.

Mr Liow said: "It felt wrong to walk away. It was our duty to take care of the body so we could bring it back safely and give his family closure."

Two kayakers from Mr Liow's group, Mr Bernard Lim, 56, and Mr Chong Chee Voon, 59, helped to tow the body to land using a tandem kayak.

They had volunteered for this task as they found that their kayak was nimble enough to navigate the river, which was very narrow in some parts.

Securing the body with a rope, Mr Lim, the head of procurement at a supply chain firm, held on to the body while Mr Chong navigated their kayak across the shallow water safely to shore.

Mr Chong, a retired chief financial officer, said: "I was worried as the kayaks we were in were inflatable boats and we came close to hitting a metal structure.

"But we knew what we had to do. Anyone would have done the same."

At about noon, the kayakers handed over the body to the authorities.

Police investigations are under way.

The Straits Times

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