Lucky Plaza accident: 2 Filipino maids still in hospital now in stable condition

Lucky Plaza accident: 2 Filipino maids still in hospital now in stable condition
Members of the public, many of them domestic workers, at a makeshift memorial at the site of the accident on Jan 5, 2020. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - The two foreign domestic workers still in hospital after being hit by a car outside Lucky Plaza two weeks ago are now in stable condition, the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) said in an update on Sunday (Jan 12).

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, CDE chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said in a Facebook post that Ms Arceli Nucos, 56, and Ms Egnal Layugan Limbauan, 43, have been moved to normal wards.

"Both have been through extensive medical treatments and we ask for your continued prayers, and give them privacy and time while they embark on their rehabilitation and recovery journey," he said.

The two were placed in the intensive care unit on Dec 29, after they and four other Filipino domestic workers picnicking on a Nutmeg Road walkway were struck by a black Honda that crashed through a pavement railing and plunged several metres onto the exit lane of the Lucky Plaza carpark.

A 64-year-old male driver was arrested at the scene for dangerous driving causing death. Investigations into the incident are ongoing.

The horrific afternoon accident killed Ms Nucos's sister Arlyn, 50, as well as Ms Abigail Danao Leste, 41.

Two other victims - Ms Demet Limbauan Limbauan, 37, and Ms Laila Flores Laudencia, 44 - have been discharged from Tan Tock Seng Hospital. They are continuing their recovery and will continue working with their current employers, Mr Yeo said on Sunday.

The CDE, which said last week that it raised more than $360,000 for the victims, intends to complete paperwork in the coming days to disburse an initial payment to the families of the deceased.

This will be "to cover their most urgent and immediate needs", Mr Yeo said. The remains of the two women were repatriated to the Philippines, where bereavement and funeral arrangements have since concluded, he added.

"Following this initial payment, we will be making continuous monthly support payments to the four surviving workers and the dependants of the two deceased, up until they have regained financial independence or the donated funds are exhausted."

"It is our hope that we can stretch this supplementary monthly support and additional assistance for the victims and/or dependants for as long as possible."

"In coming to this decision, we have also considered the personal accident insurance claims that the respective employers have filed for all six workers, which upon payment will most likely be disbursed in a lump sum to the victims and/or their dependants," Mr Yeo said.

Counselling has meanwhile been extended to those requiring help as a result of the accident, through a partnership with The Salvation Army.Six people, including Filipino workers who were friends or relatives of the victims, have gone through the sessions.

"We are thankful and encouraged by the outpouring of help and support for our domestic workers in the last two weeks," Mr Yeo said.

Mr Adrian Bernie Candolada, charge d'affaires at the Philippine Embassy here, told The Straits Times that Ms Arceli Nucos and Ms Limbauan have undergone multiple operations and are recuperating.

He said Philippine Ambassador Joseph del Mar Yap visited them on Wednesday to wish them a speedy and full recovery and to thank doctors and hospital staff for taking care of them well.

"Rehabilitation for both of them will take longer. We expect their next of kin to arrive to visit them as well as help decide where they will undergo their rehab after they get out of the hospital," said Mr Candolada.

The healing process is also ongoing for the Filipino community, which is still reeling from the deadly accident that occurred in a place many consider their home away from home. 

Lucky Plaza was buzzing when The Straits Times visited on Sunday afternoon, the traditional day off for foreign domestic workers. 

Crowds packed the eateries, shops and salons, while others queued to remit money or buy “balikbayan” (home-bound) boxes to fill with gifts for loved ones back home.

A few shops, however, said that sales have fallen slightly over the last two weeks as some have been avoiding the mall since the accident. 

“The sisters were my regular customers. It’s very sad and unexpected to have this happen on your one day off,” said Mr Jonardz Peralta, 28, a shop assistant at a gadget store, referring to the Nucos sisters Arlyn and Arceli. 

Visitors on Sunday continued to lay flowers, snacks and candles at the site where the accident took place, while others had picnics on the pavement across the road. 

Ms Luz Lacrete, 43, said she did not know the victims, but came to pay her respects. 

“This incident has affected everybody. Some are avoiding Lucky Plaza now because of what happened,” said the Filipina domestic helper, who sometimes sits on the pavement with friends. 

“We come here to remit money, and there’s no place else to go after that,” she said.

First published by Tiffany Fumiko Tay

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