SINGAPORE — The family of four-year-old Eleanor Tan Si Xuan, who was killed in a road accident on Monday, sent her off in a coffin that was decorated with balloons, flowers, props such as angel-like wings, and other paraphernalia.
On Wednesday (Oct 11), the funeral rites were held during the wake at a public housing block on Bukit Batok Street 31. Visitors held pink and red roses handed out by the family, and the girl’s mother, Ms Jacelyn Wong, 24, sobbed quietly as she put her hand around her husband.
Just before 6.15pm, the coffin was transferred to a waiting hearse before heading to the Mandai Crematorium for cremation, with the family following in a red car.
On the day of the accident, Eleanor and the family’s domestic helper, who were on their way home from the girl’s childcare centre, were hit by a car along Bukit Batok Central towards Bukit Batok West Avenue 2, at around 6.40pm.
At the wake, Ms Wong declined interviews with the press, but her father, who was equally heartbroken, told TODAY that he was in shock when he first learnt that he had lost his granddaughter.
Mr Ang, 53, a private-hire car driver who declined to give his full name, said that he was driving in the city when he received a call from Ms Wong, who told him that “Eleanor (is) no more already”.
He rushed to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, where the girl and the domestic helper were taken after the accident.
“I was hoping that my granddaughter would wake up ... I knew the doctor already pronounced (her dead). But I just kept talking to her. I was hoping that there would be some (miracle).”
He added that Eleanor’s parents were also holding the girl’s hand and “asking her to wake up”.
Talking about the accident, Mr Ang said that there were no traffic lights at the spot where the helper and the girl had crossed the road.
He added that the helper regained consciousness on Tuesday, while a spokesperson for Ng Teng Fong General Hospital told TODAY that she was in a stable condition.
A 53-year-old male driver was arrested for causing death by a rash act. Police investigations are in progress.
Mr Ang last saw Eleanor on Monday morning, as she had stayed overnight at his home in Bukit Batok, which is two blocks away from her childcare centre.
He and his wife, who works in the service industry, had been caring for Eleanor since she was born in December 2012. She stayed over at their home frequently since it is closer to her childcare centre, which she attended on weekdays.
Typically, her grandmother would take her to the centre in the mornings. However, there were times when she would ask Mr Ang to take her instead, if she noticed that her grandmother had not eaten breakfast, Mr Ang recalled.
On how Eleanor’s mother was coping with the loss, Mr Ang said: “We told her to accept it. The accident has already happened.”
Ms Wong had earlier told Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News that she would typically pick Eleanor up from the childcare centre, but did not do so on Monday as she was cooking her daughter’s favourite dish of steamed eggs at home.
“When I received the call from the hospital, I thought my daughter was injured. It was only when my husband and I went to the hospital that we found out that our daughter was gone,” she had said.
When asked what he would remember most about Eleanor, Mr Ang told TODAY: “Her smile. She was always smiling. She was always respectful, so all the elders in the family doted on her.”
Ms Julien Caballero, 26, Eleanor's form teacher last year at the Prince Siddhattha Child Care Centre on Bukit Batok Street 21, described the girl as a very friendly and expressive child. Although she is no longer Eleanor's form teacher, the little girl would still "never forget to say 'hello'" to her, she said.
Eleanor was also independent and would try to solve problems herself and "asked for help only when she needed it", Ms Caballero added.
Early on Tuesday, the centre's principal broke the news of her death to staff members via a phone text message. "I felt like I lost my own child," Ms Caballero said, noting that the mood at the centre was subdued and the teachers were very sad.