Shower death 'unfortunate misadventure': Coroner

The State Coroner said it may be prudent to use tempered glass on doors or windows in places where falls may occur to avoid "catastrophic or even fatal injuries" in the event of an inadvertent slip or fall.
The State Coroner said it may be prudent to use tempered glass on doors or windows in places where falls may occur to avoid "catastrophic or even fatal injuries" in the event of an inadvertent slip or fall.ST PHOTO: SHIN MIN

Delivering his findings on an incident where a man died after he fell through a glass shower panel, the State Coroner said it may be prudent to use tempered glass on doors or windows in places where falls may occur.

State Coroner Marvin Bay said yesterday that this is to avoid "catastrophic or even fatal injuries" in the event of an inadvertent slip or fall.

Mr Sebastian Wong Yu Lun, 24, had gone to take a shower with his girlfriend at about 7.40am on Jan 25 this year after staying overnight at her apartment in Teban Gardens Road.

Mr Wong was leaving the shower when his girlfriend, who was still bathing, suddenly heard the sound of breaking glass.

Turning around, she saw his head trapped within the broken glass panel of the door.

She tried to pull him up to free him but to no avail. Her sister, who also heard the sound of glass breaking, came over to take a look and then rushed to call emergency services.

Thereafter, Mr Wong's girlfriend managed to extricate him, but he fell flat on his back.

She propped him into a sitting position, and used a towel to suppress the bleeding from the wounds on his head and neck.

After five minutes, however, Mr Wong lost consciousness. His girlfriend performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him.

An ambulance arrived shortly after that and a paramedic who detected a weak pulse arranged to rush Mr Wong to hospital. But the pulse was lost soon after that and Mr Wong was pronounced dead at 8.22am.

Yesterday, the State Coroner found Mr Wong's death to be an "unfortunate misadventure".

A consultant forensic pathologist found Mr Wong's death to be from multiple cuts to the head and neck, caused by sharp glass fragments.

None of the injuries would have caused death immediately, but the combination of wounds could be expected to cause heavy bleeding resulting in death.

A forensic scientist with the Health Sciences Authority, in a scene reconstruction, found that Mr Wong broke the glass panel with the right side of his head and his neck was cut by broken glass.

The sales assistant in a second-hand car dealership was trapped in a stationary position, with his head through the glass panel, for a period of time.

While the State Coroner noted that Mr Wong had elevated blood pressure and possible hypertension with 75 per cent blockage in an artery, he found that the fall was likely due to "a slip on the wet and slippery floor, rather than a sudden collapse or fainting spell".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2015, with the headline 'Shower death 'unfortunate misadventure': Coroner'. Print Edition | Subscribe