Last month, an accident happened to a 60-year-old Singaporean Mr John Low when he was doing diving as a diving instructor. His boat sank after being hit by choppy waves. He drifted in South China Sea for four days and three nights with a life buoy and backpack containing his Singapore identity card before he was carried out to sea. He had no food, not water, and no shelter. Fortunately, he was spotted by a passing ship and was then rescued by a helicopter.
Low needed to endure the ordeal of the pain of the beating sun as well as the cold temperature at night on South China Sea. When he was just rescued, he was seriously sunburned. “It’s like 1,000 needles poking your face.” says Low. He described that it hurts a lot when putting his sunburned skin into the sea water,
During his time stranded in the sea, all Low had as companions were his ring buoy and Rolex Mido Commander, The Straits Times reported. To stay sane, he talked to those items, calling them “boy” and “brother”, the report added.
Low says that thoughts of his family – a wife and three sons – were what kept him going during the ordeal. Low also considered himself religious, and he exclaimed that it was the belief of God that keeps him persevering until being rescued.
On the fourth night, relief finally came when Low saw a 10-storey high ship called Diogo Cao. He became unconscious as soon as he saw the ship approaching him.
After lifiting him out of the waters, ship crew notified Singapore authorities, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) deployed its Rescue 10 team to rescue the dehydrated man via helicopter.
In a video posted by the RSAF, Low thanked the team for bringing him home. He said it was reassuring to see the team anxious over him. “I hope there will be no one else for you to save but if you do , keep doing the same thing with your bravery,” Low told the men, before hugging each and everyone who had come to visit him.
Low recovered in the hospital for a month. He got kidney failure from the high intake of salt water, skin burns and an infection in his lungs. However, the pain did not seem to diminish his sense of humour. In an update posted on his Facebook page, Low joked that his face resembled Chinese-style barbecued meat or bakwa.
One month on, Low reports that he has fully recovered from his injuries.
This reminds me of my trip to Sibu in Grade 7. When we went there, the sun was also scotching, but not as serious like needles. Many of my classmates still get sunburned. Although I did not get burned (probably because of the protection of my dark skin color), I was hydrated and suffered from the scratches of sand inside my rash vest. It was like Low’s face, when you want to wash the sand with sea water, it just get worse — the salt in the sea water make it even more painful. My skin started bleeding until I went home for a hot shower and washed the 1-cm-thick sand off (after the trip I found out that some classmates brought baby powder — it makes your skin slippery and all sands will come off. I immediately felt stupid). It was similar with Low, but I always knew what was going to happen next in the trip while Low did not know what his fate was. All he could do was to pray, be prepared to go back to home and reunite with his family or to go to the other home (heaven).
I felt so lucky that I do not have to face such risk. And the most importantly, I will never forget to put on sunscreen again…