‘Two boys full of love, life and laughter’

Elizabeth Soh
Elizabeth Soh
Family and friends pray over the coffins of brothers Nigel and Donovan Yap

Two boys full of love, life and laughter – that is how the family and friends of Nigel and Donovan Yap want to remember them.

Over a hundred mourners turned up on Tuesday night at the boys’ wake in Tampines to pay their respects and offer support to the brothers’ devastated parents, who lost both their children in a horrific accident on Monday after a truck collided with the bicycle their sons had been riding.

Church members took turns to deliver emotional eulogies, describing the brothers as adorable children who loved to sing and dance and would turn up for Sunday school at the Sembawang Assembly of God at Tagore Road without fail every week since they joined the church in 2008.

“Just last week Nigel played the drums for me and asked me, how did I do? I said he did great, and he wanted to continue playing the drums, but today he is in the arms of Lord Jesus. God, can you tell Nigel that I love him very much?” said Brother Jordan, who personally mentored the boys and was coaching 13-year-old Nigel, an aspiring drummer.

Pastor Flora Chew described how loving and close the family had been. She said that she had once asked Nigel why he was so tired every weekend and he had confessed that he would wait up till midnight for his father to come home from work so that he could see him before he slept.

Their mother, Suliani Ang, 38, had also been very concerned about her sons’ studies and even quit her job when Nigel was in Primary 6 to help prepare him for his exams. She had only recently started working part-time at a fast food restaurant to bring in extra income.

“They were very close. Nigel loved his brother so much, he would always protect him,” said Chew, whose voice broke many times during her eulogy.

Nigel had picked up 7-year-old Donovan from Tampines North Primary School on his bicycle on Monday afternoon and the two were just 300m, or one traffic light away from their home, when they were hit by a cement mixer at the junction of Tampines Avenue 9 and Tampines Street 45.

The impact of the crash flung the boys off the bicycle. One brother was killed instantly while the other died moments later from fatal injuries.

Shortly after, their mother rushed to the gruesome scene, still clad in her fast-food uniform, falling to her knees wailing in front of the bodies of her two sons before fainting in her husband’s arms.

“I had never seen anything so heartbreaking and sad. The mother screamed and screamed loud enough to hear from two blocks away,” said Tampines resident Angie Chew, who returned to the scene on Tuesday night to leave flowers and offerings for the boys.

Retired teacher Chew, 46, had been walking nearby when the accident happened on Monday. She said that the boys’ father, SAF Warrant Officer Francis Yap, 39, had tried to comfort his wife but ‘his hands and face were shaking so badly’ that he needed to be supported himself.

At the wake last night, Ang sat in the front row of the prayer service, sobbing softly into a yellow towel and had to be physically supported by family members to stand. When church members started to sing “Jesus Loves Me”, a hymn that Nigel had just learned how to play the drums to, she covered her face with her towel, overcome with emotion.

A relative of the Yaps told Yahoo! Singapore that Ang had cried through the night without sleep and that the family were still in complete shock over what had happened.

“We would like to ask people to please stop posting or sharing photos of Nigel and Donovan’s bodies. Their mother really cannot take it – we don’t want her to accidentally see it or find it. They were just a hardworking, normal, happy family, very simple and contented. The accident has destroyed their lives – I hope you can all understand where we are coming from,” said the male relative, who declined to be named.

Donovan and Nigel’s funeral will be held on Thursday afternoon.

Related links:
Two boys die in truck accident in Tampines