Thursday, May 02, 2002

Fatal crash ultimately claims 2 young lives

Driver kills himself after girlfriend, a U-M student, dies in wreck

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

News Staff Reporters

Yu Ming Leong would have turned 23 Saturday.

Instead, his family and the family of his girlfriend were mourning their deaths - hers in a car crash and his as a result of a suicide a day later.

Leong came to Ann Arbor on Wednesday to help his girlfriend, University of Michigan student Amanda Yeo, 19, move from her room in Bursley Hall to an off-campus apartment for the summer. She had just finished her sophomore year in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, but had not declared a major.

Leong, an Indiana University student, was driving a Ford Expedition at 12:53 a.m. Thursday in Superior Township when he failed to stop at a blinking red light. The SUV was hit broadside by a tractor-trailer, and Yeo was killed.

Leong was treated at the U-M Medical Center and then checked into a motel. He called a friend, who picked him up the next afternoon and drove him back to his apartment in Bloomington, Ind., about a mile from campus, Bloomington Police Capt. Joe Qualters said.

Leong, who lived alone, arrived at 8:30 p.m. Friday. About 15 minutes later, he began writing an eight-page suicide note.

"The note indicated he had remorse over the accident in which his girlfriend was killed and he felt responsible for that," Qualters said. "He was obviously very anguished."

At 11:35 p.m. Friday, after two friends tried unsuccessfully to call him for two hours, they forced their way into his apartment and found him lying on the bed, Qualters said. Leong had slit his throat and wrist.

Investigators don't know how long Leong and Yeo dated. They were both Singapore natives. In her online profile on U-M's Web site, just updated this month, Yeo wrote that she missed "bubble tea the most." Bubble tea is a frothy drink made from green, red or black tea and colored with fruit syrups, and includes chewy tapioca balls. The drink is extremely popular in Singapore.

Leong, a junior biology major, was vice president of the Singapore Students Association at Indiana until recently, when Goh Guo-Hua took over the position.

Guo-Hua said one of his happiest memories with Leong was when they imported a box of bubble tea mixes and shakers and made the drink for many others. "We were the only ones in Bloomington who made it," said Guo-Hua.

"He was one of those good people whose passing you would feel is a great injustice," he said. "It'll make you think that life is very unfair. He was bright and deserved better. After the accident, I knew he'd never be the same again, perhaps even stop studying here and moving far away. The thought that this could have happened did cross my mind, but I guess I was just hoping he would not resort to that."

Singapore Students Association member Ferris Lim said Leong was "a great buddy and friend" to all in the organization.

"He had never failed to impress me with his intelligence, sensibility, exuberance and sincerity toward friendships," Lim said.

Sean Liu, president of the association, said members will miss Leong's generosity and eagerness to help those in need.

"We will all miss him very dearly and our hearts goes out to his family," Liu said.

A memorial service was held for Yeo on Sunday at Muehlig Funeral Chapel in Ann Arbor.

Leong's body will be claimed by his aunt, who lives in Boston.

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