Family of man in fatal fall call for covers on drainage holes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2009, 12:00am

Relatives of a man who died after falling into a drainage hole wanted all such holes, known as catchpits, to be covered, an inquest heard yesterday.

Chan She-yim, 68, was walking uphill backwards in Sheung Lok Street, Ho Man Tin, at about 7.20am on August 18 last year when he stumbled, hit his head on the edge of the hole and fell into the catchpit.

He lost consciousness before he was rushed to hospital and died three days later.

An autopsy report submitted to the Coroner's Court showed that Chan had died of severe head injuries. He had a fracture at the base of his skull, bleeding on the brain and a fracture to his spine.

Yung Siu-lun, an engineer with the Architectural Services Department, said the catchpit was one of more than five along the pavement, and it was one metre wide and 1.5 metres deep. He said it had not been covered since the department began maintenance and repair works in 2003, and no one had complained.

Catchpits are concrete structures that remove sediment and redirect water from the hillsides to lower areas, the court was told.

Mr Yung said temporary wooden structures were placed on top after the incident and concrete covers had been fitted to the pit and another one nearby eight days later.

The Civil Engineering Department had set guidelines on when covers should be fitted, Mr Yung said, but the depth and width of the holes were not among the concerns.

A lawyer, representing the family of the man who died, argued that such open drainage holes be fitted with grates and appealed to the jury to recommend that all catchpits be covered to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.

The lawyer representing the Civil Engineering, Water Supplies and Architectural Services departments said the incident was unusual. Walking backwards was like walking blindfolded, and it was such unpredictable acts that made preventive measures difficult, he said.

The inquest continues today.