Friends mourn woman who fell from US Marine's Mid-levels balcony

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 July, 2014, 6:06am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 10:45am

Friends and colleagues of a woman who died in a fall from a balcony at the home of two US marines described her as dynamic, energetic and a passionate advocate for the environment and women’s rights.

Tiffany Leung Wai-yu, 27, died in the early hours of July 11 when  she fell from the 18th-floor balcony of her boyfriend’s flat in Mid-Levels.

The boyfriend, Raymond Kyle White, a 23-year-old US marine sergeant who holds a diplomatic passport, called police just before 3am to report the fall.

A police source said White’s colleague, a fellow marine, was also in the flat at Estoril Court in Garden Road at the time of the incident. “Up to now, no criminal element had been found in our investigation,” the source said. “There was no sign of struggle or fighting at the scene and no suspicious wounds were found on the body.”

Leung reportedly met White about six months ago.

On the night of the fatal fall, the couple had been drinking in Lan Kwai Fong and had just returned to the luxury flat, which the United States consulate leased for staff use, when the tragedy occurred.

Another source said the woman was seen climbing over the balcony of the flat. Police were looking into whether she did so under the influence of alcohol.

“Our officers were told that she could have become hyperactive after consuming alcohol,” the source said.

Leung’s mother, Tam Lai-man, managing director of Swire Resources, did not return calls from the Sunday Morning Post last week.

Leung started working at The Women’s Foundation in Sheung Wan in January as the non-profit organisation’s programmes and advocacy manager. Her colleagues at the foundation have been offered counselling.

“She was a tremendous individual who was both a sweet friend and a valued colleague at The Women’s Foundation,” said Angelina Kwan, vice-chairwoman of the foundation’s board.

Bess Hepworth, who knew Leung as “Tiff”, said she had lost a “good friend and someone I admired so greatly”.

“My heart is ripped out right now to learn of this phenomenal, dynamic and energetic woman taken so soon and before she had a chance to give even more to the world,” Hepworth said.

Hong Kong-based computer programmer Mart Van de Ven said Leung was a “really pleasant” student when she took a website design course he taught earlier this year.

Merrin Pearse, a sustainability consultant, knew Leung through her work in  a previous job with the environmental group Clean Air Network. 

“She was such an enthusiastic and energetic person,” he said.

Investigations into the incident, classified as a fall, are ongoing, police said.