Orchard Central fatal fall

Teen who fell at Orchard Central known to perform daring stunts

Left: Jonathan vaulted over a barrier at the fourth-storey link bridge between Orchard Central and Orchard Gateway on Feb 24 and landed on the ledge, but the platform he was on gave way and he fell to his death. Above: The platform, which Coroner Mar
Jonathan vaulted over a barrier at the fourth-storey link bridge between Orchard Central and Orchard Gateway on Feb 24 and landed on the ledge, but the platform he was on gave way and he fell to his death. PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG, DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Left: Jonathan vaulted over a barrier at the fourth-storey link bridge between Orchard Central and Orchard Gateway on Feb 24 and landed on the ledge, but the platform he was on gave way and he fell to his death. Above: The platform, which Coroner Mar
The platform, which Coroner Marvin Bay said was made of calcium silicate board and not intended for any load-bearing purpose, has since been repaired. PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG, DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Left: Jonathan vaulted over a barrier at the fourth-storey link bridge between Orchard Central and Orchard Gateway on Feb 24 and landed on the ledge, but the platform he was on gave way and he fell to his death. Above: The platform, which Coroner Mar
Jonathan Chow Hua Guang was known to be a keen skateboarder and a daring person. Prior to his fatal fall, he had jumped from the second storey of buildings for fun.PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG, DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Coroner rules 17-year-old's death a tragic misadventure

The teenager who fell to his death from the fourth-storey link bridge between the Orchard Central and Orchard Gateway shopping malls had a history of performing daring stunts, the court heard yesterday.

An inquiry into the death of Jonathan Chow Hua Guang, 17, revealed that prior to his fatal fall, he had jumped from the second storey of buildings with his friend, Ruth Shamini Kumar, 16, for fun.

Investigation officer Lim Wei told State Coroner Marvin Bay that Ruth was with Jonathan when he fell from the bridge on Feb 24.

Coroner Bay, who found the teenager's death to be a tragic misadventure, said Jonathan was known to be a keen skateboarder and a daring person. He added: "(A friend) recalled (Jonathan's) skateboard stunts to include skating down several flights of stairs to the ground floor. She had also seen (him) execute a skateboard jump over a stationary railing to the ground."

Yesterday, Staff Sergeant Lim said Ruth and Jonathan were close friends, but there was no evidence they were in a relationship.

The court heard there was also no evidence that Jonathan, who was about to be enlisted in national service, was into parkour - an activity in which practitioners try to get from one point to another in the fastest way by jumping, climbing and vaulting. The 1.74m tall teenager, who weighed 79kg, knew Ruth via Instagram, and they regularly sent each other text messages.

 

He had met her at about 1.40pm on Feb 24 as they had planned to go to Sentosa. But when it started to rain, they decided to meet friends in Bedok. They were on a bus when he felt an urgent need to use the toilet. The pair alighted at Midpoint Orchard and went to Orchard Central.

According to Ruth, when they reached the fourth storey, they began to discuss jumping over the railing onto a ledge which was perpendicular to the bridge.

Coroner Bay said: "(Ruth) had initially entertained the idea of their jumping but then reconsidered, telling (Jonathan) that she was 'scared'. (He) proposed to perform the discussed feat alone, and asked (her) to take a video of him jumping over the railing and onto the adjacent ledge."

Closed-circuit television footage played in court yesterday showed the pair putting down their bags before he vaulted over a 1.2m-high barrier. Jonathan landed on the ledge, but the platform he was on gave way and he fell 18m to the ground.

Coroner Bay said the platform was made of calcium silicate board and was not intended for any load-bearing purpose.

Jonathan was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he was found to be suffering from severe head injuries and lacerations to his liver, kidney and lung. He was pronounced dead at around 5.40pm that day.

Coroner Bay said: "(Jonathan's) sad demise should also serve as a sad cautionary tale for individuals who are disposed to go 'off-route' in public spaces, of the dire consequences of failing to ensure that the ledges or surfaces they intend to use are structurally sound, and able to withstand the rigours of any parkour-type activities or acrobatic stunts that they are minded to attempt."

Jonathan's father, mechanical engineer Matthew Chow, 55, was in court yesterday. He told reporters that "time will heal", and added: "We are all very sad and miss him. I hope this incident will have a higher purpose. Hopefully, public spaces will be more safe for everyone."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'Teen known to perform daring stunts'. Print Edition | Subscribe