A four-year-old who fell nine floors from his new home in Yishun Ring Road in October last year died because of "a truly sad misadventure", a coroner said yesterday.
Darien Riley Zabiq, who had been left alone at home with his two-year-old sister, had placed a chair in front of a window to reach it and push it open, the coroner's court heard.
He then used a wooden-framed mirror to bridge the space between the window frame and the air-conditioner ledge, before climbing onto the ledge and falling over.
Delivering his findings into the boy's death, State Coroner Marvin Bay said while there is no mandatory requirement for HDB flat owners to install window grilles, it would be "a rational and prudent safety measure" to have them in high-rise apartments, particularly for households with young children.
Children are naturally inquisitive, keen to explore their environment and "may not have developed a sound appreciation of risks", he said. And one can never reliably anticipate "their propensity to do the unexpected and hazardous".
On Oct 6, Darien was supposed to have gone to kindergarten, but he did not want to and had kicked up a fuss, so his mother, Madam Sophia Noreen Kamsani, let him sleep in. She also let her daughter, Eriqa, stay at home instead of dropping her off at her grandmother's.
As she was late for work, and with Darien and Eriqa asleep in the master bedroom, Madam Sophia went to Yishun Street 11 to give her mother, Madam Nor Hidayah Abdullah, her house keys.
Madam Sophia's husband, Mr Zabiq Kamis, had already left for work, while their two older children, aged eight and 10, had gone to school. She made sure all the windows were closed before she left at about 8.15am. About 20 minutes later, Darien fell. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Madam Nor Hidayah was on her way to babysit her grandchildren when she got a call from Mr Zabiq telling her he had been contacted by the police.
Policemen found Eriqa asleep in the master bedroom. The window was open and a chair, taken from another room, had been placed in front of it. The rest of the windows in the home were closed.
The family had moved into the flat just 12 days earlier and had arranged for window grilles to be installed. As a safety measure, Madam Sophia had put cardboard boxes filled with heavy items near the windows as a barrier. She also reminded the children not to open the windows, or go near them. The windows could not be locked, but only closed and secured by a handle.
In an interview a week after the incident, Mr Zabiq, a security officer, had said: "That day, we made the 'fast' decision (to leave the children at home alone), which was the wrong decision. And we have paid for it with my son's death."
Madam Sophia, a part-time dental assistant, added: "The pain will always be there, but we have to move on and be strong, as we have three other children."