BUKIT MERTAJAM: Helping others whenever he can is the motto of Oon Thoo Seen, who risked his life to save an injured woman from her mangled car moments before it went up in flames.
That was not the first rescue by the 66-year-old contractor, who is one of the 10 winners of the Star Golden Hearts Award this year.
He had also helped out in an accident in Bukit Mertajam a few years ago.
On Aug 31 this year, Oon, who is from Sungai Petani, Kedah, and a friend had just attended a feast in Grik and were on their way back to Pengkalan Hulu to work when they passed by the site of a head-on collision between 37-year-old Sri Nursuzawilati Mat Noh’s Proton Saga and a Perodua Alza at KM14 of Jalan Pengkalan Hulu-Gerik.
The Perodua Alza was on fire and several metres away, they saw Nursuzawilati unconscious in the driver's seat of the Proton.
Her husband Rosefakhzan Saleh Mohammad, 38, who was in the passenger seat, was also unconscious and had been helped out by passers-by. The couple’s children Mohd Aqil Hazim Rosefakhzan, nine, and Nur Naurah Qaisara Rosefakhzan, five, who were seated at the back, suffered minor injuries.
The driver’s door was jammed and Nursuzawilati was pinned to her seat.
“A passer-by was trying to break her car window with rocks but it didn’t work,” Oon recalled. “I saw her in need of immediate help to be extracted from danger.”
Remembering he had a 4kg axe in his car, he ran back to get it.
“I took my axe and smashed it into the car door’s locking mechanism.”
The force broke the mechanism, after which Oon used his legs to pry the door open, before releasing Nursuzawilati’s seatbelt and quickly pulling her out of the wreckage.
"Flames engulfed the woman's car minutes later, and by the time the fire engine and ambulance arrived, both cars were already burnt,” he said.
While he was rescuing Nursuzawilati, he said: "there was nothing on my mind but to help whenever I can. This is what every Malaysian should do. We need to help each other as much as we can, and together we will achieve more.”
Oon was hailed as an unsung hero after photographs and stories of his rescue were posted on social media.
“I dread to think what could have happened if Oon hadn’t smashed the car door with his axe,” said Rosefakhzan who was warded after surgery to remove fluid from his lungs at the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital.
“A fire from the other car was spreading to ours, where my wife was trapped and unconscious. Without him, I might have lost my wife.”
Rosefakhzan said he could not wait to meet up with Oon.
“I want to thank him over and over again,” he added. But sadly, although he survived the impact of the crash, he died on Sept 18.
Nursuzawilati had three broken ribs and serious abdominal injuries.
The occupants of the Alza – a soldier, his wife and child from Gerik – escaped with minor injuries.