SINGAPORE: Actor Aloysius Pang has died after sustaining serious injuries during a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training exercise in New Zealand, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a statement on Wednesday (Jan 23) night.
An independent Committee of Inquiry (COI) will be convened to investigate the circumstances leading to the incident, MINDEF said.
It added that preliminary findings will be shared in a press conference chaired by the Chief of Defence Force on Thursday.
Pang, 28, died at 8.45pm Wednesday evening at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, where he was receiving treatment, the statement said.
He had been carrying out repair work inside a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer - an artillery gun mounted on an armoured chassis - with two other SAF personnel when the accident happened at the Waiouru Training Area on Jan 19.
"Unfortunately, CFC (NS) Pang sustained injuries when the gun barrel was lowered," said MINDEF.
He was evacuated to Waikato Hospital, a regional trauma centre, where he underwent a number of operations to treat his injuries. Tan Tock Seng Hospital's chief of trauma and acute care surgery, Dr Teo Li Tserng, was flown in to assist the New Zealand medical team tending to Pang.
"Despite surgical attempts to repair damaged organs and putting him on artificial life support, CFC (NS) Pang succumbed to the injuries and passed away," said MINDEF.
The SAF will be making arrangements to bring Pang's body back to Singapore, said the ministry.
"The Ministry of Defence and the SAF extend their deepest condolences to the family of CFC (NS) Pang and will continue to render assistance and support in their time of loss," the ministry added.
"A DIFFICULT TIME"
In a post uploaded to Pang's Instagram page on Wednesday night, his family wrote that the days following the accident had been "a difficult time".
"Throughout the past few days in the hospital, it has been a difficult time for us," the post read.
"Every (piece of) news that was brought upon us since his last op was devastating with little signs of hope on his recovery. We all broke down when the medical team spoke to us that his condition was worsening and we should be prepared for the worst.
"We're going to lose a brother. And my parents are going to lose their precious son whom (sic) is only 28."
"A DEVASTATING LOSS"
Pang is a familiar face on local Mandarin television. He started acting when he was nine years old, and has won several awards at the annual Mediacorp Star Awards, including Best Newcomer in 2015.
In a statement, Mediacorp described the actor's death as "a devastating loss".
"He was a highly capable actor who had grown in skill and versatility but remained humble, diligent and ever willing to help others," Mediacorp said in its statement.
"He will always be remembered for his good-heartedness, his sincere, unaffected earnestness and his professionalism. He showed respect to everyone, especially his elders.
"We will do all we can to help support them in this very difficult time," it added.
Pang is the fourth SAF NSman who died in training-related accidents in the last 18 months.
On Sep 15, 2017, 21-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF) 3rd Sergeant Gavin Chan died after he was ejected from a Bionix infantry fighting vehicle in an accident at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia.
The following year, on Apr 30, 19-year-old NSF Dave Lee died nearly two weeks after he suffered a heatstroke following an 8km fast march.
Just seven months later on Nov 3, 22-year-old NSF Liu Kai died after a Bionix vehicle reversed into his vehicle during a field exercise at the Jalan Murai training area.
COIs were convened in all three cases.