CFC Aloysius Pang Died As A Result Of “Severe Sepsis” From Chest Injuries
Singaporeans mourned the loss of a Singaporean son back in January, after Corporal First Class (CFC) Aloysius Pang passed away following injuries sustained during a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) exercise in New Zealand.
Here’s a summary of what the investigation uncovered. We hope it will help provide some closure for Mr Pang’s family & loved ones. You may read the full report by MINDEF here.
Pang was correcting a gun fault when incident occured
The late Mr Pang was undergoing exercise Thunder Warrior – an artillery live-firing exercise held in New Zealand (NZ) – as part of his in-camp training.
An armour technician, CFC Pang was tasked to fix a faulty gun barrel in the SSPH armoured vehicle before the live firing exercise could proceed.
An additional technician was summoned to help, after Pang was unable to resolve the issue. Both of them – and a gun commander – were housed within the tank when the incident occurred.
Pang was asked to move to a safe position
When fixing the gun barrel, it should be placed in a locked position. This means the barrel should be lowered first, as shown in the diagram below.
A gun commander should be in a chair on the left of the barrel, CFC Pang should have stood behind him, while the technician would stand on the right of the barrel upon an elevated platform.
COI claims that Pang wasn’t in 1 of 3 “designated safe positions“, and the technician asked him to move closer to him.
However, Minister Ng shares that CFC Pang apparently replied in Mandarin,
It was fine…the gun barrel would not hit him.
Should have pressed emergency stop buttons
The gun commander then gave the order to “Standby, clear away.” as he activated the gun. His orders were acknowledged by the other technician & other soldiers manning the vehicle on the outside.
As CFC Pang’s back was “facing the barrel” he initially didn’t try to “move away”. However, he later made “evasive movements as the barrel was moving closer to him”.
Unfortunately, the barrel did collide with Aloysius, and 1 of 2 servicemen who warned him tried to “push the gun barrel with his hands”, while the other tried to “stop the barrel’s movement” through the “main control screen.
Death by severe sepsis
What they should have done, however, was to press the emergency stop buttons.
Instead, the gun commander had “wrongly assumed” CFC Pang would have had time to move away as the gun barrel was lowered — a process which takes about 9-10 seconds.
The COI found that they had “panicked and acted irrationally” during the incident which indirectly led to CFC Pang’s death.
3 surgeries and 4 days later, Mr Aloysius Pang sadly succumbed to his chest and abdominal injuries on 23 Jan.
The official cause of death was “severe sepsis”, which is a complication arising from infection due to severe injuries.
Could be avoided if rules were followed
In Minister Ng’s own words,
It was not for lack of knowledge of these rules or inexperience of personnel working on the howitzer gun.
No foul play or deliberate attempts to tamper with the equipment were found in the course of the investigation. Mechanical faults were also “ruled out” as the guns used in the exercised were “certified fit for firing”, reports TODAY.
Ultimately, the accident was caused by “safety breaches committed by all 3 men”.
A tragedy with unbearable consequences
No disciplinary actions have been announced for the 2 servicemen who were responsible for the safety lapses which invariably led to the tragic accident.
Minister Ng shares that they will be tried by the military court, and have been reassigned to administrative duties.
However, the report does claim that the safety lapses were carried out by all 3 servicemen – Aloysius Pang included – and that this is a rare incident involving a Howitzer gun in SAF’s history.
As we close the chapter on the unfortunate passing of a beloved young television star, we are left wondering if these will be answers enough for the family & fans he leaves behind.
But regardless of the verdict, we’ll always remember Aloysius as a precious Singaporean son who laid down his life in the line of duty.