Published on: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Mohammad Hafiz bin Tussin, who lives with his brother's family, sister and father at Kepayan Ridge, sat on the passenger seat while 26-year-old Maxmellion Lim Chong An drove the truck prior to the incident at about 3.30am near Kg Dambai.
District Police Chief, DSP Ratan Singh said the vehicle fell into the river when it rammed the railing of a bridge. Lim managed to save himself from the truck that submerged but Hafiz could not be found.
A scuba team confirmed that no one was trapped inside the lorry.
According to villagers, the driver believed seeing a big hole in the middle of the bridge and tried to avoid it.
A resident named Danny, 32, who lived near the scene, told Daily Express he heard a loud sound from the river situated about 200 feet from his house and went to check with his wife.
Upon reaching the scene, Danny said Lim shouted for help and asked him to save his friend, Hafiz. Danny then contacted the Fire and Rescue Department here for assistance.
Lim who was unhurt said he could not swim but hung on to a tree trunk and some solid waste to swim up to the riverbank.
Penampang Fire and Rescue personnel reached the scene upon receiving a distress call at 3.41am and started search and rescue operation with 17 personnel and three scuba divers.
Police, Civil Defence Department (JPAM) personnel, army firefighters and four contractors assisted in the operation, including providing crane services to pull the truck out from the river.
At press time, the operation was still continuing.
Lim returned home in Kg Inobong at 5pm and related the incident to his mother and brother who later went to the scene to provide assistance in searching for Hafiz.
According to Lim's employer, Johnny Leong, who is a restaurant owner, Lim would leave the restaurant at about 11.30pm and drive the truck to his (Lim) house in Kg Inobong.
It was learnt that Lim and Hafiz went for a drink prior to the incident.
Penampang Police Traffic and Public Order chief, Chief Inspector Andi and Investigating Officer Inspector Mohd Azlizi Razali were at the scene.