Schools suspend activities involving heights following death of 15-year-old

ACS(I) boy had lost footing and was dangling by safety harness before being lowered

All activities at Safra Yishun's (left) adventure sports centre have been suspended temporarily, said Safra, adding that it will render the necessary assistance to the authorities. An outdoor activity structure at Safra Yishun. It is unclear what act
An outdoor activity structure at Safra Yishun. It is unclear what activity the boy was participating in when the incident happened. The Ministry of Education said the suspension of outdoor activities involving heights will remain in place until investigations are completed.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
All activities at Safra Yishun's (left) adventure sports centre have been suspended temporarily, said Safra, adding that it will render the necessary assistance to the authorities. An outdoor activity structure at Safra Yishun. It is unclear what act
All activities at Safra Yishun’s (above) adventure sports centre have been suspended temporarily, said Safra, adding that it will render the necessary assistance to the authorities.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

All schools have suspended outdoor activities involving heights - such as rock climbing and rope obstacles - with immediate effect following the death of a student who fell during a high-element activity at Safra Yishun on Wednesday.

The 15-year-old boy, who is from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) after the incident at about 2pm on Wednesday, and died yesterday morning.

A police spokesman said the boy lost his footing during the activity and was "suspended by the safety harness" in mid-air.

He lost consciousness as he was being lowered to the ground, and was unresponsive when the police arrived.

Paramedics from the Singapore Civil Defence Force tried to re-suscitate him on site and applied an automated external defib-rillator before taking him to KTPH, which was on standby to receive him.

The boy, who was described by a family friend as mature and sensible, was not named by the authorities.

He was taking part in the school activity organised by Camelot, an outdoor adventure learning company. High-element activities are sometimes used as part of school camps to instil confidence in students.

They may involve participants clearing obstacles at a height while wearing safety equipment such as helmets, harnesses and ropes.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said the suspension of such outdoor activities will remain in place until investigations are completed.

Following the incident, the instructors were questioned by the police. Preliminary investigations suggested there was no foul play. Police investigations are ongoing.

A spokesman for Camelot confirmed that the incident happened while its programme was being conducted, and said it will continue to provide its fullest cooperation to the authorities.

MOE and ACS(I) said in a joint statement that they were greatly saddened by the student's death.

"Together, we are working closely to give our fullest support to the family as well as the student's classmates and teachers during this trying time," they said. "The safety of our students has always been a priority for us, and we are working with the police and relevant parties to investigate the incident."

Safra said that all activities at the Safra Yishun adventure sports centre have been suspended temporarily. "Safra will continue to render all necessary support and assistance to the relevant authorities while investigations are ongoing."

Outdoor Learning and Adventure Education Association (OLAE) honorary secretary Delane Lim said the incident serves as a strong reminder to members of the outdoor education community to ensure professionalism, competency and skills recency among its instructors, whether they are full-timers or freelancers.

Camelot is a member of the OLAE, which represents more than 20 operators of camp and enrichment programmes here.

Writing on Facebook, Mr Lim extended his condolences to the family, and urged the public to let the authorities conduct their investigations.

"As the matter is currently under investigation, we should not speculate or (be) wild guessing what actually happened, but to allow the fact-finding process to take place by the authorities and relevant parties," he said. "This incident will certainly impact our outdoor community significantly."

He added: "It is time to take stock, review and revisit the processes in the various campsites and how to recruit, select and train our manpower."

The OLAE committee met last night to discuss the incident and what action to take.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2021, with the headline 'Schools suspend activities involving heights following death of 15-year-old'. Subscribe