KOTA KINABALU: A Japanese family’s vacation to Sabah took a tragic turn when the youngest child in the family died after being stung by a jellyfish at a beach in Kota Belud.
In the incident which happened at 7.30 am on December 31, Reo, who was playing with his elder brother Remu, 8, in the shallow waters in front of the chalet where the family stayed, was stung by a jellyfish.
According to the father, Momo Ohta, 48, a market researcher, it was low tide on that day and the water where Reo and Remu played was around one metre deep when all of a sudden, Reo screamed as if in great pain.
“I was in the bathroom at that time, did not see what happened, but my wife, Inna Batwa, 36, witnessed what had happened and thought initially that Reo was joking around but then she saw it was really serious,” Momo recalled.
Together they pulled Reo out from the water and saw that he had been stung by a jellyfish from the marks on his legs. Remu was also stung by the jellyfish but his wounds were not serious.
“When we put him down on the beach, he fainted, stopped breathing, his face start turning blue and we did not know what to do,” Inna said.
A staff from the chalet came and tried rubbing sand on the boy’s legs but that only made it worse. A boat came later and the boy was rushed to the hospital in a car. All the way to the hospital, Reo was given CPR by his parents. By the time they reached the hospital, more than an hour has passed, Momo said.
Momo said the medical staff at the hospital tried treating his son but to no avail.
“I think my son passed away within minutes after being stung by the jellyfish,” he sadly concluded.
Following the ordeal, Momo did some research on the Internet and found that vinegar should be used to neutralise the poison from the jellyfish stings.
“But the chalet staff used only sand, which made the matter worse. They do not seem to have got proper training for emergencies,” he said.
Momo said Reo would have turned five yesterday if it were not for the incident that took away his life. Showing pictures of the family taken during the vacation, Momo said Reo was an active, playful and sociable kid who spoke Japanese and Russian. Reo and his elder brother Remu spent every waking hours playing together, albeit with some sibling rivalry, the father said.
“We have already bought his presents that we were going to give him when we got home. But he passed away three days before his fifth birthday,” Momo said sadly
Yesterday was four-year-old Reo Ohta’s fifth birthday, a day he had looked forward to celebrating at his kindergarten where he would receive presents from his friends. However, yesterday was also the day when Reo was cremated at the Tionghua Funeral Parlour.
On a another note, Momo said there should be some warning about the dangers of playing in calm waters especially if there are jellyfish in season.
“My son died within minutes and we were helpless much less ignorant about the dangers lurking in in calm waters?”
The family have since abandoned their itinerary and will return to Japan the next Monday.
The family arrived in Kota Kinabalu on December 24 last year, after visiting Kuala Lumpur and Miri, Sarawak and the family vacation was supposed to end on January 12.
The family visited Mount Kinabalu where they stayed overnight, returned to Kota Kinabalu before proceeding to a beachfront holiday chalet in Kota Belud on December 27.