Dead teen used pillow to cushion 7-storey jump


Carmen, 14, who went by only one name, tied a pillow and a soft toy to her body before jumping out of the unit on the seventh storey of Block 519, West Coast Road thinking they would cushion her fall.
Carmen, 14, who went by only one name, tied a pillow and a soft toy to her body before jumping out of the unit on the seventh storey of Block 519, West Coast Road thinking they would cushion her fall.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

Her guardian had locked the front door, held on to the key and did not allow her to leave the flat to meet her friends as she had behavioural issues.

So, Carmen, 14, who went by only one name, tied a pillow and a soft toy to her body before jumping out of the unit on the seventh storey of Block 519, West Coast Road, at around 9pm on Feb 25 - thinking they would cushion her fall.

In an inquiry into her death yesterday , State Coroner Marvin Bay said: "Her fall had gone catastrophically wrong, with Carmen's head impacting against a drain and only part of her body landing on a grass patch."

He said that her death was a tragic misadventure, and added: "While Carmen's fall was effectively a deliberate act, it is plain that she did not intend the dire consequences."

The Indonesian teenager, who studied in a secondary school in Singapore, had lived with her guardian, Mr Chan Tuck Foon, since she was six years old.

However, she had disciplinary problems, and not just in school.

Coroner Bay said she picked up smoking early last year and was caught lighting up in school thrice.

Despite having been repeatedly counselled by several school staff, she would get in trouble again after meeting her friends outside of school hours. Carmen had also been caught shoplifting twice.

Coroner Bay said Mr Chan had approached a family service centre on his own on Dec 8 last year with a request for her to receive counselling.

She attended four sessions between Jan 4 and 26, but continued to display troubling behavioural issues. As a result, he contemplated sending her back to Indonesia.

On Feb 25, shortly before her fatal fall, Carmen had cried as she wanted to leave his flat.

Coroner Bay said: "But Mr Chan held firm in his refusal to let her mix with individuals whom he felt to be a bad influence."

The coroner added that she had also called a friend and asked her to come over.

Carmen also laughingly stated that she was going to jump down while covered in pillows and asked her friend if she would die from such an act.

The friend, who cannot be named as she is a juvenile, declined to respond directly.

At around 9pm, Mr Chan's mother went to the teenager's room and found it unoccupied.

The woman alerted her son, who was in his room, after noticing that the kitchen window and grilles were open, with a chair placed nearby.

The police were notified, and Carmen was rushed to the National University Hospital, where she died of multiple injuries about 50 minutes later.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'Dead teen used pillow to cushion 7-storey jump'. Print Edition | Subscribe