January 25, 2009 Sunday

13-year-old drowns in condo pool

By Shuli Sudderuddin

Sales assistant Siti Nurbaiyah, 27, had planned to take her youngest brother, 13-year-old Muhammad Khairul, swimming this Chinese New Year long weekend.

But before the weekend even started, he drowned at a friend's condominium pool.

He had gone to play soccer on Friday afternoon at a friend's Kensington Park Drive condo. His best friend, Rafiq Mohd Wapa, 13, said Khairul later wanted to cool off and the two headed to the condo pool.

While Khairul was swimming alone, Rafiq was listening to his MP3 player by the pool.

'When I looked up, I didn't see anyone in the pool, so I thought I would go home first,' he said, adding that he had texted Khairul but did not get a reply.

He later saw a Caucasian man pulling Khairul's body out of the pool and trying to revive him.

Khairul's mother, housewife Robaiyah Napiah, 52, said he had called her that afternoon to say he would be home late.

At 7pm, she received a call from Rafiq's mother telling her that Khairul had fainted by the pool.

The family rushed down to KK Women's and Children's Hospital, but Khairul had been pronounced dead by the time they arrived.

The boy's family had not sent him for any formal swimming lessons.

'He liked to swim but I was unsure how well he could really swim,' said Ms Siti when The Sunday Times visited the family's three-room flat in Ang Mo Kio.

This is not the first case of a child drowning in a condo pool.

In September 2007, Jonathan Chow Kin Mun, 10, drowned in Palm Gardens condominium's pool after an epileptic seizure.

A four-year-old boy also died after falling into The Lincoln Modern's swimming pool in February the same year.

The youngest of four siblings, Khairul had just started his Secondary 1 studies at Yio Chu Kang Secondary School.

Ms Siti said that he was a well-behaved, quiet child who did well in school and enjoyed mathematics.

'He never complained or asked my parents for things,' she said.

Added Madam Robaiyah: 'When we asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said he wanted to earn a lot of money and give it to us. He was so good.'