Husband of S’porean woman killed in car crash in Hokkaido attends wake: ‘Only thing I could hear was my wife screaming in the car’

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Karthik Balasubramanian, the husband of the Singaporean woman who was killed in a fatal car accident in Hokkaido, Japan has returned to Singapore on Jan. 18 evening.

The 44-year-old attended his wife and younger daughter’s wake the next day, reported The Straits Times.

The four-month-old girl was also killed in the accident.

His elder daughter, Aanya, aged three, has also returned home after being discharged from a Hokkaido hospital a few days ago.

What happened

Speaking to ST, Karthik confirmed he was driving the rental car when tragedy struck on Jan. 10.

Karthik shared that he and his 41-year-old wife, Lin Xiuyue, had travelled to Japan many times previously, including two winter visits to Hokkaido.

He said they preferred driving on their own, rather than joining tour groups.

He said his wife and two daughters were seated at the back seat when their vehicle collided with the dump truck.

Karthik also shared with Shin Min Daily News that he relied on Google Maps for navigation because he was not familiar with the roads in Kamifurano.

According to him, the road was difficult to drive on, and visibility was also poor:

“When the accident happened, I could only see around 150m to 200m ahead. Additionally, as the road was built on a mountain, it kept going up and down and up and down. Both sides of the road were also covered in snow, making them very slippery, so I drove very slowly”.

Karthik told Shin Min he ended up not noticing the oncoming truck because Google Maps did not remind him to make a stop ahead, and he was checking the road signs to determine which road to take.

He also shared with ST that when he finally saw the stop sign from approximately 150m away and started applying the brakes, it was already too late.

“The only thing I could hear was my wife screaming in the car, like one loud scream,” he said.

Passers-by extended help after accident

After hearing his wife’s scream, Karthik told ST that he blacked out for a few minutes before he was awoken by his smartwatch that alerted him that he had been in an accident.

When he noticed his wife and his younger daughter were unconscious and badly injured, he rushed over to resuscitate them, reported Shin Min.

Karthik also shared that local drivers and passers-by offered their help by calling the ambulance and compressing his wife’s chest while he tried to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

His wife and younger daughter were taken to the hospital shortly after.

Wife and younger daughter passed away in hospital

Unfortunately, the doctors at the Hokkaido hospital tried to restart his wife’s heart but failed, according to Karthik.

While his younger daughter did not sustain any physical injuries, he said she still cannot recover from the shock of the accident.

He also shared with ST that he and his elder daughter only suffered minor injuries — Aanya needed stitches for her head, while he sustained a hip fracture.

He said he chose to let his hip heal naturally while taking painkillers, rather than undergo surgery, because he cannot be bedridden when he has a daughter to take care of.

Family was planning to celebrate CNY together

According to ST, Karthik’s sister flew to Singapore to support him after the accident.

His mother will also be coming over next month.

Karthik said Lin’s family and friends have been “very supportive and encouraging,” which helped to motivate him to carry on.

According to ST, Karthik’s wife was on maternity leave when her family visited Japan and had planned to return home to celebrate Chinese New Year (CNY).

Lin was also planning to return to work as a teacher at Nan Chiau Primary School after her holiday.

Lin’s brother-in-law told ST that her aged parents were stricken with grief upon learning about the deaths of their daughter and granddaughter.

He also shared that the family had been looking forward to celebrating this Lunar New Year together as a big group after two years of Covid-19 restrictions.

“Nobody knows why things happen. We just have to try our best to cope and to move on,” he said.

Top images via Shin Min Daily News