Boy falls to his death in 3rd skylight window accident

Royal Kingdom residential community has had three accidents in a year related to skylights. Local homeowners say nothing is being done to prevent future mishaps.
Boy falls to his death in 3rd skylight window accident
Xu Lingchao / SHINE

The skylight window that the boy stepped on was unlatched.

A boy has died after stepping on a ground level skylight window and falling 5.8 meters into a basement in a residential community that has reported at least two previous accidents of the same nature.

The latest incident in the Royal Kingdom residential community in Baoshan District on January 6 has aroused serious concerns about public safety and childcare responsibility.

Huang, an 8-year-old boy, was walking his dog at midday when he entered the front yard of a vacant building next door to his own and stepped on the unlatched window.

His mother found him after he failed to show up for lunch.

Huang was rushed to hospital but died soon after.

A Shanghai Daily reporter visited the site on Saturday.

Three ground level skylight windows are about 40 centimeters above ground. A tiny sticker on each warns people not to step on the windows and to keep children away.

Two of the windows were latched. The skylights are fixed on one side, while the other side can be lifted to a certain angle to allow air to enter.

Officers from Baoshan’s engineering safety supervisory center were at the site on Friday. One of the officers said all windows that project beyond the main walls of a building are required to have security measures, such as limits on angles the windows can be opened or protective fences around them.

But the officer said it was not clear whether a skylight on the ground would fit the classification.

A professional assessment group will examine the design of the house to check its structural safety, the officer said.

Last April, a resident surnamed Zhang of the community stepped on the skylight of his own apartment and fell into the basement.

He escaped serious injury because the basement was filled with leftover cardboard.

“I couldn’t be bothered to complain to the property manager,” Zhang told Shanghai Daily, referring to the skylight.

“They haven’t yet fixed a water pipe problem since I moved in December 2017.”

Some residents of Royal Kingdom have taken it upon themselves to put protection around on the skylights.

A woman surnamed Liu, who has an 8-year-old son, said she put a steel net fence on the skylights to prevent accidents.

“I knew of a toddler who fell through a skylight window last year,” said Liu. “She was injured but has since recovered.”

Huang’s uncle Chen Guangming said he is angry with Royal Kingdom developer Zhenro Group for its failure to ensure the safety of skylights after the two accidents last year.

At the property management office of Royal Kingdom, a staffer told Shanghai Daily that everyone was heartbroken by Huang’s death.

The company is in negotiations with Huang’s family, she added.

She said the property management office has never received any complaints about skylight windows from apartment owners.

“If we had received a report, we would have looked into it,” Tang said.

She said someone from Zhenro’s headquarters would be available to answer questions, but by press time, no one from the company had come forward.

The residence where the tragedy occurred had been vacant since the last tenant moved out.

After local TV news reports of the boy’s death, many people on social media questioned why the boy was in the neighbor’s yard to begin with.

Some blamed parental neglect.

The boy’s uncle said he was upset by the online criticism, explaining that the family had just moved in a month ago and the boy’s mother was watching him from a balcony while she packed his clothes for boarding school.

“The only time he spends at home is on weekends,” Chen said, adding that the gate of the adjoining yard was wide open at the time.

Li Jianwei, who lives on the ground floor of Huang’s building, told Shanghai Daily that when he bought his apartment, the front yard garden was considered a public area.

“I used to argue with the property company on the issue,” said Li.

“I thought the yard should be my own property, but the company said otherwise in the contract.”

Li said the people living in Royal Kingdom have to take it upon themselves to inspect the safety of skylight windows.

“Since the company isn’t doing it, we don’t have any choice,” he said.

Boy falls to his death in 3rd skylight window accident
Xu Lingchao / SHINE

The unlatched skylight window that caused the boy to fall was covered by a plywood on Saturday.

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