A prized bicycle reappears to soothe a grieving family
Cycling enthusiast collapses and dies after a ride on his favourite bicycle, which then goes missing
It was his favourite bicycle, a mountain bike he would ride either with friends or alone.
Then he died. And the bike went missing.
When the police called after more than two weeks and told the family that the precious bicycle had been found, it was a hugely emotional moment for them all, seeking closure after a death so sudden it left everyone in shock.
On April 28 at about 6pm, Mr Louis Lai, 55, who worked in the shipping industry, decided to go on a ride before dinner and set off alone near the Bukit Batok Nature Park.
There, he became breathless and collapsed.
He tried calling family members on his mobile phone for help, but they could not find him due to confusion over his exact location.
As Mr Lai lay on the ground, his pulse started to fade.
Several members of the public, who had spotted him lying on the ground alongside his fallen bicycle, called for an ambulance.
One person performed chest compressions on him.
Mr Lai, who was believed to have suffered a heart attack, was rushed by ambulance to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, where he died before his family could say their last goodbyes.
His younger brother, Mr Ken Lai, 53, a photographer, told The New Paper yesterday the family is still coming to terms with his death.
“He was someone who loved the outdoors and sports like swimming and cycling, and didn’t have any complaints about heart problems, so we’re still trying to understand how his heart just stopped,” he said.
The sudden death shocked his family, especially as he was generally healthy and, save for occasional bouts of gout, had no known health issues.
“Louis was the fifth of us six siblings, and was a family man who gathered all of us together for a meal weekly,” said his younger brother.
“Before his death and the whole pandemic, we would all meet quite often. The last time I spoke to him was over dinner at Jack’s Place, and we were talking about how he had gout but still insisted on having steak.”
Mr Lai has a wife and son, who wanted to retrieve his father’s prized bike to remember him by.
On the night of Mr Lai’s death, family members went to Bukit Batok Avenue 2, where the army green bike was last seen.
But they could not find it, and after two weeks of searching, they put out an appeal for information on Facebook on May 14.
The bike, a 2014 Pivot Mach 6, is estimated to be worth $5,000.
Mr Ken Lai said the family had great difficulty grieving during the wake and searching for the bike with the circuit breaker on.
“It was tough keeping to the small number of people at the wake, and even as we kept a lookout for the bike, we could only go past the area alone,” he said.
“Louis also had a racing bike, but the missing bike was his prized one that he used most, so we couldn’t give up.”
More than two weeks after the incident, on May 18, officers from the Clementi Police Division called the family, telling them the bike had been found and they could retrieve it that afternoon.
“I was told officers had to go to three different places while tracking the bike, because it had gone through three different pairs of hands in 20 days,” said Mr Ken Lai.
“I’m not sure if it was stolen or traded or sold, or even who these three people are, because when I tried to find out more, all the officers could tell me was it is a classified case now being handled by investigators from the Jurong Police Division.”
TNP has reached out to the Public Affairs Department of the police with queries on the incident.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Mr Ken Lai said they are extremely grateful to all who had stepped forward to help when the incident happened and for those who had kept a lookout for the bike.
“We want to thank members of the public who stepped forward to help, and especially thank the police officers for helping us get my brother’s bike back,” he said.
“We’re glad it came back to us in good condition, even though a pouch seems to be missing. But I guess that can’t be avoided considering it had gone through so many people before being found.”
Mr Louis Lai (above) collapsed while riding his 2014 Pivot Mach 6 bicycle (above right).