Man's fatal fall: Lift had history of 'mislevelling'

Mr Lim fell backwards after reversing his mobility scooter out of the lift without noticing the uneven levels. Officers inspecting the lift at Block 247, Pasir Ris Street 21, where 77-year-old Lim Hang Chiang fell on May 15 last year. Residents had p
Officers inspecting the lift at Block 247, Pasir Ris Street 21, where 77-year-old Lim Hang Chiang fell on May 15 last year. Residents had previously complained to Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council that the lift floor was sometimes not level with the lift lobby floor.WANBAO FILE PHOTO
Mr Lim fell backwards after reversing his mobility scooter out of the lift without noticing the uneven levels. Officers inspecting the lift at Block 247, Pasir Ris Street 21, where 77-year-old Lim Hang Chiang fell on May 15 last year. Residents had p
Mr Lim fell backwards after reversing his mobility scooter out of the lift without noticing the uneven levels. PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE LIM FAMILY

Lift and lobby floors not level in six instances in months before senior on mobility scooter fell

In the months leading to an elderly man's fatal fall, there were six instances where the lift floor was not level with the lift lobby floor when the doors opened at Block 247, Pasir Ris Street 21, the coroner's court heard yesterday.

On May 15 last year, Mr Lim Hang Chiang, 77, fell backwards and hit his head after reversing his mobility scooter out of the lift without noticing that its floor was about 13cm higher than the lobby floor.

He died the next day in hospital.

On the second day of an inquiry into his death, Building and Construction Authority (BCA) investigation officer Winson Lee, who took the stand, said the six earlier "mislevelling" incidents took place between December 2015 and March last year.

He told State Coroner Marvin Bay that the BCA launched an investigation after the fatal incident, and found out about these instances following complaints residents had made to Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council about the lift.

Mr Lee said the town council had received such complaints once a month between January and March last year. The BCA then conducted an in-depth investigation and viewed closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the area.

He said the levelling problem took place "intermittently" and no one was injured in the earlier cases. The problem was either auto-corrected with built-in recovery mechanisms or rectified after technical repairs, the court heard.

CCTV footage of the fall was played in court yesterday, showing Mr Lim riding his mobility scooter into the lift at the 10th storey. Two more men entered the lift before it went down to the ground floor.

Building and Construction Authority investigation officer Winson Lee said the levelling problem took place "intermittently" and no one was injured in the earlier cases. The problem was either auto-corrected with built-in recovery mechanisms or rectified after technical repairs, the court heard.

Mr Lim was the first to leave the lift and, due to the uneven ground, his mobility scooter toppled over and he fell. The two men rushed to help him and he was seen waving his hand around as he lay face-up on the floor outside the lift.

Mr Lim re-entered the lift minutes later with his mobility scooter and got out at the 10th storey. There was no "mislevelling" problem when he exited the lift.

His family members later took him to Changi General Hospital, where he threw up thrice before falling into a coma.

According to earlier news reports, CT scans and an X-ray showed he had a cerebral haemorrhage and the internal bleeding affected half of his brain. He died in the early hours of May 16.

The inquiry has been adjourned to Aug 22.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 'Man's fatal fall: Lift had history of 'mislevelling''. Print Edition | Subscribe