KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — Why didn’t the driver open the door himself?
This was the poser raised by self-employed Jumrah Thamrin following the death of her six-year-old son Muhammad Iqram Danish — a victim of heat stroke — after he was found unconscious in the back of a school van for several hours on Friday.
Jumrah, 38, believes her son could have been saved if the driver had ensured his charges got on and off the vehicle safely.
Muhammad Iqram was pronounced dead upon arrival at Hospital Sungai Buloh after he was rushed there by the 21-year-old driver, accompanied by Jumrah.
“When my son began taking the van to school at the end of January, I would try to ensure he was seated comfortably since the van can be quite packed. There were times when space was not enough and he had to stand,” said Jumrah.
“But last Friday, there were fewer students in the van as some were away for the holidays. So I seated Muhammad Iqram behind the driver.”
Jumrah was always concerned for her son’s safety and had insisted the driver sounded his horn and stayed with him whenever he dropped him off, fearing he may be kidnapped.
“Even if he had not personally opened the van door to let the children in and out, the fewer students that day meant it would have been easier to look out for my son,” she said.
“I have seen the driver ferrying both kindergarten and primary school pupils, but I was made aware recently that the van was only supposed to transport pre-schoolers. So all this does not make sense.”
Although the driver had sent Muhammad Iqram to a nearby clinic upon discovering the boy, he alerted Jumrah and ferried both of them to the hospital, but it was too late.
“He was blue all over when I saw him at the clinic. And he felt so small and fragile as I carried him in my arms,” she said.
Muhammad Iqram’s funeral on Saturday was attended by the kindergarten’s teachers as well as the father of the driver. Police detained the driver on Friday, shortly after the incident occurred.
Jumrah said the driver’s father apologised to the family on behalf of his son and was grieved beyond tears as well.
She said she accepted her loss and has forgiven the driver, but still weeps at the mention of her son’s name, whom she described as a loving and friendly child.
“He was always mischievous given his age but he easily made friends at the fardhu ain class. His imagination was bigger than anything else, he would get excited at seeing things on TV, imagining himself to be flying in the air or travelling into outer space,” said Jumrah.
“He said he wanted to become an imam or ustaz when he grew up, which inspired the other children as well. All his teachers were fond of him. Since the funeral, my husband, my 16-year-old daughter and I have been staying at my sister’s place in Subang.
“I cannot bear to return to our house in Bandar Country Homes as I fear the flood of memories will wear me down.”
Gombak deputy police chief Superintendent Mohd Marzuki Mohd Mokhtar said police have recorded the driver’s statement but declined to elaborate.