Boy falls to his death in 3rd sky­light win­dow ac­ci­dent

Shanghai Daily - - FRONT PAGE - Xu Lingchao

A BOY has died after step­ping on a ground level sky­light win­dow and fall­ing 5.8 me­ters into a base­ment in a res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity that has re­ported at least two pre­vi­ous ac­ci­dents of the same na­ture.

The lat­est in­ci­dent in the Royal King­dom res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity in Baoshan Dis­trict on Jan­uary 6 has aroused se­ri­ous con­cerns about pub­lic safety and child­care re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Huang, an 8-year-old boy, was walk­ing his dog at mid­day when he en­tered the front yard of a va­cant build­ing next door to his own and stepped on the un­latched win­dow.

His mother found him after he failed to show up for lunch.

Huang was rushed to hos­pi­tal but died soon after.

A Shang­hai Daily re­porter vis­ited the site on Satur­day.

Three ground level sky­light win­dows are about 40 cen­time­ters above ground. A tiny sticker on each warns peo­ple not to step on the win­dows and to keep chil­dren away.

Two of the win­dows were latched. The sky­lights are fixed on one side, while the other side can be lifted to a cer­tain an­gle to al­low air to en­ter.

Of­fi­cers from Baoshan’s en­gi­neer­ing safety su­per­vi­sory cen­ter were at the site on Fri­day. One of the of­fi­cers said all win­dows that project be­yond the main walls of a build­ing are re­quired to have se­cu­rity mea­sures, such as lim­its on an­gles the win­dows can be opened or pro­tec­tive fences around them.

But the of­fi­cer said it was not clear whether a sky­light on the ground would fit the clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

A pro­fes­sional as­sess­ment group will ex­am­ine the de­sign of the house to check its struc­tural safety, the of­fi­cer said.

Last April, a res­i­dent sur­named Zhang of the com­mu­nity stepped on the sky­light of his own apart­ment and fell into the base­ment.

He es­caped se­ri­ous in­jury be­cause the base­ment was filled with left­over card­board.

“I couldn’t be both­ered to com­plain to the prop­erty man­ager,” Zhang told Shang­hai Daily, re­fer­ring to the sky­light.

“They haven’t yet fixed a wa­ter pipe prob­lem since I moved in De­cem­ber 2017.”

Some res­i­dents of Royal King­dom have taken it upon them­selves to put pro­tec­tion around on the sky­lights.

A woman sur­named Liu, who has an 8-year-old son, said she put a steel net fence on the sky­lights to pre­vent ac­ci­dents.

“I knew of a tod­dler who fell through a sky­light win­dow last year,” said Liu. “She was in­jured but has since re­cov­ered.”

Huang’s un­cle Chen Guang­ming said he is an­gry with Royal King­dom de­vel­oper Zhenro Group for its fail­ure to en­sure the safety of sky­lights after the two ac­ci­dents last year.

At the prop­erty man­age­ment of­fice of Royal King­dom, a staffer told Shang­hai Daily that ev­ery­one was heart­bro­ken by Huang’s death.

The com­pany is in ne­go­ti­a­tions with Huang’s fam­ily, she added.

She said the prop­erty man­age­ment of­fice has never re­ceived any com­plaints about sky­light win­dows from apart­ment own­ers.

“If we had re­ceived a re­port, we would have looked into it,” Tang said.

She said some­one from Zhenro’s head­quar­ters would be avail­able to an­swer ques­tions, but by press time, no one from the com­pany had come for­ward.

The res­i­dence where the tragedy oc­curred had been va­cant since the last ten­ant moved out.

After lo­cal TV news re­ports of the boy’s death, many peo­ple on so­cial me­dia ques­tioned why the boy was in the neigh­bor’s yard to be­gin with.

Some blamed parental ne­glect.

The boy’s un­cle said he was upset by the on­line crit­i­cism, ex­plain­ing that the fam­ily had just moved in a month ago and the boy’s mother was watch­ing him from a bal­cony while she packed his clothes for board­ing school.

“The only time he spends at home is on week­ends,” Chen said, adding that the gate of the ad­join­ing yard was wide open at the time.

Li Jian­wei, who lives on the ground floor of Huang’s build­ing, told Shang­hai Daily that when he bought his apart­ment, the front yard gar­den was con­sid­ered a pub­lic area.

“I used to ar­gue with the prop­erty com­pany on the is­sue,” said Li.

“I thought the yard should be my own prop­erty, but the com­pany said oth­er­wise in the con­tract.”

Li said the peo­ple liv­ing in Royal King­dom have to take it upon them­selves to in­spect the safety of sky­light win­dows.

“Since the com­pany isn’t do­ing it, we don’t have any choice,” he said.

The un­latched sky­light win­dow has been cov­ered by ply­wood on Satur­day. In­set: The win­dow that the boy stepped on was un­latched. — Link Xu

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