At about 9.30pm Friday night (Feb 8), a pickup truck parked near to Sungai Terengganu on Pulau Warisan started to slide and plunge into the river.
Berita Harian reported that the submerged Mitsubishi Storm was carrying a family of five, a married couple, their daughters and grandchild, namely Suryati Rusly, 37; Nordiana Alwani Jaafar, 33; Asmaa Rusly, 23; Syafawani Jaafar, 11; and Iman Nur Hana Luthfia Mohd Amiruddin, 3.
Sin Chew reported that the driver shifted to a wrong gear and led to the car moving into the water. The husband managed to swim himself to the shore and it was his shouts that alerted people who were fishing there to jump into the water to rescue the drowning family, NST reported.
Footage of the incident was captured by onlookers and the video has gone viral on social media. Abdul Bari Asyraf Mohd, 31, was reportedly the first person responded to the cry of help and he jumped into the water without a second thought.
Besides Bari, about three to six passersby were believed to have partaken in the rescue. An officer with the Terengganu’s Road Transport Department (JPJ), Omar Abdul Aziz Othman, 27, said Bari was struggling to stay afloat as he held on a girl.
“I saw the victim (Abdul Bari) trying hard to stay afloat while holding a child, which prompted me to try and grab the child from him.
“However, I failed, and then proceeded to rescue two women and brought them to the river bank,” NST quoted the JPJ officer as saying.
Two of the rescuers tried to save the passengers but had to swim back to safety. An angler who was at the scene threw a plastic barrel at Bari in an attempt to let Bari hold onto it.
“However, I’m not sure whether he managed to get hold of the barrel or not, because he was almost drowned at that time.
“The girl was rescued by others who jumped into the river,” said the witness.
All four passengers were saved from drowning and they were all rushed to Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital for treatment. Omar and four others managed to swim back ashore safely but Bari was reportedly missing after the incident.
According to Malaysiakini, Bari’s body was found floating on the river at about 2.5km away from where he was last seen this morning at 7.24am (Feb 10). Passersby saw the body and alerted the Fire and Rescue Department.
“The victim’s family has identified the body and it was taken to the forensics unit of Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital.
“With this discovery, the search and rescue operation was halted at 8.30am,” said Terengganu Fire and Rescue Department deputy director Sharikan Bustaman.
Bari loved fishing and it was his second time fishing on the day of the incident. His mother Masitah Awang, 60, said, “Bari really liked to fish. Any free time he had, he would go out fishing with his friends at any fishing spot.
“He went out early today and returned home to pray and have lunch before going out again after Asar.”
Masitah only knew about her son’s disappearance after her husband Mohd Mustafa, 66, notified her after receiving a call from the police at 10pm that night.
Following the body retrieval, Mustafa said he was proud of his son when speaking to the media at Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital. Mustafa, who appeared calm, expressed his gratitude that his son’s body was finally recovered after an extensive search.
“Praise be to Allah… we understand and accept His will. Everyone, including his mother Masitah Awang have come to terms with his passing.
“Although we feel sad, we are proud of him for setting aside his own safety for that of others,” said the victim’s father, adding that his son was a hero because his intention was to save lives.
You can watch the video of the incident on the next page.