Surgeon hangs on for dear life after plane crash
By JACK WONG and ZORA CHAN
KUCHING: Villagers watched in horror as a well-known doctor hung on precariously after his aircraft crashed into trees in a dense forest area in Simunjan, about 90km from here.
Dr James Ngu Siew Kong, a general surgeon here, was heard shouting for help as the drama unfolded after part of the two-seater Pelican aircraft got entangled in the branches.
Another part of the aircraft had earlier crashed to the ground with the pilot, Stanley Tiong, 61, who died from his injuries.
A Nuri helicopter with commandos tried to rescue Dr Ngu, 58, but the strong gusts created by the rotating blades shook the wreckage, causing it to plunge.
The injured doctor was flown out by to the RMAF base here before being taken to the Sarawak General Hospital at about 1.30pm, about four hours after the crash occurred.
Dr Ngu was later transferred to the Normah Medical Specialist Centre here, where he is based, in a critical condition.
The aircraft had taken off from Kuching at about 8.50am on a leisure flight to Sibu.
It is learnt that the duo decided to turn back after encountering bad weather.
Villagers from the nearby Kampung Sungai Ladong said they heard two explosions in the air and saw the plane circling before crashing into the trees.
Monir Chi, 54, said he heard a third explosion when part of the plane crashed.
He said he heard shouts for help from Dr Ngu, who was trapped in a section of the plane stuck in the braches.
“He was still in his seat and calling out for help when we arrived at the scene,” added the farmer, who alerted others to inform the police.
Monir said other villagers who made their way to the site on foot found Tiong on the ground seriously injured but still alive.
Simunjan OCPD Deputy Supt Choo Yin Kok confirmed that Kampung Sungai Ladong villagers were the first to alert police about the crash.
He said the crash site, which is near an oil palm plantation, was nearly an hour’s drive away from Simunjan town and a 4km walk through dense peat swamp forest.
He said 20 policemen and two officers were sent on a rescue mission.
Tiong’s friends, who were at the hospital, said his wife, who is in China on a holiday, and their three children who are overseas had been informed of the tragedy and were on their way back.
“He is an experienced pilot who has been flying light aircraft for about 10 years,” said one of his friends, who declined to be named.