A trekking misadventure on 09.02.2014
|2.37pm - the last photo taken by Lee Kam Boon of Bernard Lee descending Gunung Suku at halfway point.|
My group of 27 pax had commenced trekking from the car park at 9.30 a.m. and arrived at the summit at about 12.30 p.m. to take our lunch. At the summit, we met another 11-member Malay trekking group from Seri Manjung. After an hour, at 1.40 pm we were all on the trail again back- trekking downhill passing through the halfway point at about 2.35 p.m. We had a short rest of about 10 minutes at the halfway point next to a stream before continuing the back-trek.
It was after a further 50 minutes of trekking downhill that the freak accident happened at a height of 3,550 ft. above sea level and about only 600 metres away from the tar-road. Mr. Lee Kam Boon, Dr. Ian Goh and I were about 2 minutes behind Bernard Lee when he collapsed and rolled down the trail for a distance of about 30 ft. Upon hearing people shouting that someone had fainted, we quickly rushed forward. Lee Kam Boon who was in front of me recognized the familiar greenish T-Shirt that Bernard was wearing and started shouting to me, "It's Bernard! It's Bernard!". To my shock and disbelief, it was indeed Bernard lying on the ground.
My nephew, Dr. Ian Goh, Lee Kam Boon and I immediately performed CPR on Bernard for more than 10 minutes. We refused to give up. However, En Ibrohim from the Malay trekking group who came to assist us said that after 4 minutes, it was of no use performing CPR anymore. Yet, we still continued for a further 5 minutes - all the while hoping and praying inside for a miracle to happen.
After 15 minutes of performing CPR, we still failed to revive Bernard. About 20 minutes later Dr. Ian Goh Hong Siang then pronounced Bernard Lee dead. During the 20 minutes in time, I was crying deep inside me, devastated, heart-broken with extreme emotional pain to see my best friend passing away right in front of my very eyes whilst both my hands were still on his chest. We all felt extremely sad, disappointed and physically exhausted.
By this time, the Malay trekking group had already managed to contact the Bomba, the Ambulance and Police Department for us. Mr. Lee Kam Boon thanked them on our behalf for their kind and sincere assistance.
Our trekkers then started to prepare a stretcher to bring Bernard's body down the hill. We were very fortunate then to meet En. Ibrohim bin A. Hamid, a Bomba personnel from the Manjung District who was with the 11-member group. He said that it would be very difficult to carry Bernard's body down the narrow and steep hill slope using the stretcher. He then kindly volunteered to carry Bernard's body down the hill on his back. I followed closely right behind En. Ibrohim, holding on to Bernard's legs and arm to help to lessen the weight. En. Ibrohim also asked for a person to be in front of him to be an "anchor". It was extremely difficult to carry a person down the hill. Thus, he had to take a rest twice on the way down for about 250 metres with another 350 metres to go. By this time, two ambulance personnel had arrived to confirm the demise of Bernard Lee. About 15 minutes later, the Rescue Team from Bomba Simpang Pulai arrived to take the body down to the awaiting ambulance. Lee Kam Boon and I then personally thanked En. Ibrohim for his utmost kindness and compassion in carrying Bernard's body down the hill.
It is very hard to imagine that Bernard had carried out his last trek with me on that ill-fated day. I was unable to sleep that whole night reflecting on his sudden demise as we still have so many back-packing trips planned for the near future. In fact during this trek, he told me that on 18th February, he will be back-packing alone to Thailand for more than a month. After that, he will be going to China for a month to recky the Silk Route. He had already purchased his air-tickets to those two countries. Furthermore, in September 2015, he was supposed to lead my group on the Silk Route and then return to Malaysia via Thailand - a journey which would take us at least 60 days and within a budget of about RM8,000-00 each.
10.02.2014 - This morning at about 10 a.m., Lee Kam Boon, Silvarajo and his sister Elizabeth, my wife Catherine and myself were all at the Ipoh GH Mortuary. We waited till 1 p.m. for Bernard's sister and nieces to arrive from Penang to claim the body. The Ipoh GH postmortem confirmed that Bernard's death was due to a sudden heart attack and not due to his fall because they found some blockages. In the afternoon, as required by the Police Inspector, all of us went to the Simpang Pulai Police Station again to give our reports as witnesses.
Wake held at St. Ignatius Church, Jalan SS25/23 PJ on 10th and 11th. February 2014.
Bernard Lee Kar Giap
may your soul rest in peace...
14 October 1953 - 09 February 2014
|9.30am - a group photo taken at the car-park open space (GPS:N04.33346 E101.19353)|
|Everybody at the car-park area getting ready to go for the 5km return trek in about 6 hours.|
|I was at the start of the trail conducting a body count and following behind the group.|
|The vertical climb.|
|10am - Leong Kwong Seng and daughter Leong Li Shan.|
|Bernard Lee in front of Leong Kwong Seng.|
|10.30am - Silvarajo and I taking a rest after an hour of trekking.|
|The gigantic aerial root on the trail.|
|The gigantic mushroom on a dead trunk.|
|11.00am - Silvarajo, Lee Kam Boon and Dr. Ian Goh arrived at the false peak.|
|The view of the main road to Cameron Highlands.|
|11.19am - everybody arrived at the half-way point by a small stream.|
|Taking a rest at the half-way point by a small stream.|
|Silverajo distributing some nuts bought in Nepal to all at the half-way point.|
|11.32am - the group continued trekking up the mountain|
|(L-R) Bernard Lee, Nga Seong Tong and Leong Kwong Seng|
|11.50am - taking a rest for photo shoot.|
|Lee Kam Boon (center) said that we are almost there!|
|11.55am - getting into the mossy forest of Gunung Suku.|
|The beautiful trail into the mossy forest.|
|Reached T junction, turn left to summit and right to camp site.|
|My nephew Dr. Ian Goh and I standing on the soft mossy ground.|
|12.30am - everybody duly arrived at the summit of Gunung Suku.|
|There is also a trail to Gunung Irau at the summit.|
|Silvarajo and I at the summit (GPS: N04.32558 E101.20029)|
|Dr Ian Goh and I at the summit.|
|I took down this signboard for photo shoot and later everybody used it to take photograph.|
|For lunch, I was sharing my bread with Bernard Lee, standing at the far side with me.|
|The happy trekkers taking a good rest after lunch.|
|We waited for Jeffrey CK Ong to boil water to make some coffee.|
|Jeffrey CK Ong had to boil more water for everybody to make coffee.|
|A group photo - Bernard and Silvarajo standing behind.|
|The 11 Malay trekkers from Seri Manjung - En Ibrohim the fireman squatting on the left.|
|Bernard Lee (2nd from left) looks so cheerful and happy at the summit.|
|L-R: Bernard Lee, Lee Kam Boon, Ching Neng Bin. I remember this photo taken just before trekking downhill.|
|1.30pm - Bernard Lee (left) checking his belt and getting ready to trek downhill.|
|Mr. Lee Kam Boon with these cow horn driftwood.|
|I was playing Tarzan swing on the trail.|
|It was fun playing Tarzan swing.|
|Bernard Lee descending Gunung Suku at halfway point|
|2.37pm - the last photo taken by Lee Kam Boon of Bernard Lee descending Gunung Suku.|
|03.39 pm - everyone was helping to do CPR on Bernard after he collapsed (GPS: N04.33120 E101.19561).|
|En Ibrohim carried Bernard's body down piggy-back and I was holding on to his leg behind.|
|Nga Seong Tong (right) also helped to carry the other arm of Bernard Lee.|
|Ambulance personnel arrived to confirm the demise of Bernard Lee.|
|The ambulance and bomba were waiting at the foot of the hill.|
|Bernard's body was finally brought down at 5.33pm.|
The photos below of beautiful wild flowers and fruits taken on the track of Gunung Suku are in remembrance of the late Bernard Lee Kar Giap and in the sincere tender of our sympathies to his relatives - from backpackers: Ching Neng Bin, Lee Kam Boon, Chew Leng Soon, Chan Meng Fye, Cindy Chong, Lily Yap and Silvarajo.
14.02.2014 - at Balai Bomba Seri ManjungTay Seok Khim and Tay Seok Hooi presented gift vouchers to Ibrohim bin Abdul Hamid and his trekking friends as a token of appreciation for their help at Balai Bomba Seri Manjung, Fire and Rescue Station Seri Manjung, Jalan Dato Seri Kamaruddin, 32040 Seri Manjung.
This morning at 9.30am my wife Catherine and I trekked up Gunung Suku to the very spot where the late Bernard Lee collapsed. To mark the spot we did a tripod stand by the track using cut trees. I then nailed a small cross on the tree marker. Finally, we prayed for the soul of the late Bernard Lee before trekking back.
|Along the track just before we arrived to the spot, we saw these strange flowers, maybe this flowers is to welcome us to Gunung Suku to pray for Bernard Lee R.I.P. - this is the first tree.|
|This is the first time we have seen such flowers on the main tree trunk instead of branches - can anybody give me the name of this tree?|
|A close-up view of the flowers at the base of the tree.|
|This is the second tree on the track, very near to the place where Bernard collapsed.|
|Catherine sat on the very spot where the late Bernard Lee collapsed.|
|To mark the spot, we did a tripod stand by the track using cut trees and then nailed a small cross on the tree marker.|
|I will be taking friends of the late Bernard Lee to Gunung Suku on 12th April, 9am at the car park. All friends are cordially invited to this track up to the summit of Gunung Suku and also to pray for the soul of the late Bernard Lee RIP.|