GEORGE TOWN - A 24-year-old man plunged to his death after he lost control of his car and drove off the Penang Bridge into the sea.
Factory clerk Tan Lean Loon was believed to be on his way home to Air Itam on the island at around 4am yesterday when his car rammed into the side guardrail at KM7.9 along the bridge.
The car then skidded along the iron railing for a short distance before hitting a lamp post and plunging into the sea.
Scuba divers later recovered Tan's body from the wreckage of the car.
This is believed to be the first time since the Penang Bridge opened in 1985 that such an incident had occurred.
His girlfriend, Chee Jia Ying, 19, who was seen crying uncontrollably at the Penang Hospital mortuary, said Tan had sent her an SMS before midnight on Wednesday that he had arrived home.
"He told me in the message that he was feeling tired but didn't mention that he would be going out again. I don't know where he went," she said tearfully.
Tan's uncle, known only as Oon, 60, described his nephew as a diligent young man who works part-time as an insurance agent.
"The last time I met him was two days ago when I signed an insurance policy," he said, urging witnesses to come forward.
Tan, who played the ruan (a Chinese lute), was supposed to take part in a Chinese orchestra competition in Genting Highlands this month.
The youngest of three siblings, he lived with his grandparents as his parents are separated.
His mother, who resides in the United States, is believed to be on her way back to Penang.
State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanaf said a team of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency scuba divers managed to locate the wreckage of the car at around noon.
"We discovered the wreckage not too far from where the car had crashed on the bridge," DCP Abdul Rahim told reporters at the state police headquarters.
A post-mortem confirmed that Tan had died of drowning.
His body has been placed at the Batu Gantong funeral parlour. The funeral will be held on Monday.