SINGAPORE — A part-time security guard who had tried to stop two patrons from going into a restricted area at the 1-Altitude alfresco bar fell into a manhole which was open for cleaning purposes and later died from head injuries, according to police investigations revealed in a coroner’s inquiry on Wednesday (5 August).
Shaun Tung Mun Hon, 26, had pushed aside the temporary barricade on the second floor of 1-Altitude in the wee hours of 9 June 2019 and ran towards the two patrons when he fell into the 4-metre pit, which was in his path along the unlit corridor, the investigations showed.
1-Altitude is located on the rooftop of the 63-storey of One Raffles Place.
A coroner’s inquiry led by State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam showed that the manhole cover for the gondola pit was left open as part of a usual practice to allow access to a switch for cleaning purposes. The inquiry was attended by Tung’s sister and father, who were represented by a lawyer.
According to a Ministry of Manpower Investigating Officer (IO), the gondola switch was located in the gondola pit, and workers cleaning the facade of the building would leave the pit open to access the switch.
While the workers were not carrying out works at the time of the incident, the floor slabs that covered the pit were very heavy – at an estimated weight of 80kg. Workers left the slabs open as it was troublesome to move them everyday, said the IO.
Another witness, a police investigating officer, told the court that the pit was within a barricaded area which was off-limits to patrons. Tung was tasked on that day to prevent patrons from entering the area, which was cordoned from an open dining area on the second floor.
After Tung fell into the pit, the Singapore Civil Defence Force were called. Tung was pronounced dead at the scene at 1.54am on 9 June 2019. An autopsy showed that he died from head injuries.
Tung was employed as a security officer and was usually deployed to another club.
On 8 July 2019, he was deployed to 1-Altitude for a second time. According to investigations, Tung arrived late and missed a mass briefing. Instead, he was briefed by a senior security officer who showed him the manhole area and informed him that the area was out of bounds to patrons before he started work between 6pm and 7pm. Tung had received an orientation of the bar layout on the only previous occasion he was deployed there four days ago.
Tung was deployed to the second floor of the area where he was equipped with a torchlight.
While the second floor was still open to diners, the area with the manhole was cordoned off with no light fixtures. Lighting at the area was usually provided by lights fixed onto the furniture but these were also removed to facilitate the cleaning process. Lights were not provided in the area as no cleaning works were ongoing then.
There were two staircases leading to the second floor – one which led to the area with the manhole was cordoned off by a retractable metal gate and high tables.
At about 9pm, Tung was allowed to go for his one-hour break and he was allowed to take toilet breaks in between.
A senior security officer then observed that Tung looked tired as he placed his hands on a stand while standing. When asked if he wanted to be deployed to another area, Tung denied being tired, but asked to go to the toilet to wash his face. He then continued his duty in the same area.
At about 11pm, as the crowd started to come in, Tung was reminded of usual practices, including crowd control.
Hours later, at about 1.30am, two patrons who were at the dance floor went up the staircase leading to the restricted area from the first floor, pushing aside the barricades, according to investigations. A security officer witnessed the act and shouted at the patrons. Other security officers managed to get the attention of the patrons, who made their way back down the stairs.
Tung, who also saw the patrons from the second floor, pushed aside the barricade and ran towards the two guests while shining his torchlight at them. He did not shine the light at the manhole before falling into the opening. A colleague who saw the incident alerted the manager and the authorities were then alerted.
After the incident, temporary hoarding was put in place of the barricades to prevent any further mishap.
The Ministry of Manpower is looking into possible lapses, including the reason for fixed barricades not being used in place of a retractable gate and high tables.
Findings into the inquiry will be delivered on 13 August.
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