Peers of young Hong Kong hiker killed in lightning strike deserve space to grieve, not blame
I’m writing in response to your editorial of July 4, “Another tragedy we must all learn from”. I spent a good part of yesterday in South Island School with several administrators, teachers and counsellors, helping to comfort close to 40 recent graduates who had come together, in shock and despair, over the loss of their classmate, Ian Lo Go-yin.
Among the group were five of the ex-students who had accompanied Ian on the hike to Ma On Shan. These are good kids. They got together, not to drink alcohol or take drugs but to go on a hike. They are also very intelligent. Two of them are about to begin university at Oxford and the London School of Economics. Some of them, if not all, had their gold “Hong Kong Award for Young People” certificates, and were experienced hikers.
They had checked the weather the night before: “sunny spells with a few rain showers”. As was mentioned in the editorial, the group set off “less than an hour before the Hong Kong Observatory issued a thunderstorm warning”.
The amber rainstorm warning (cautioning residents not to stand on high ground) didn’t come until 12.15pm. The sky looked fine when the group set out. When the storm started, there wasn’t any cover and they were on a ridge, close to the peak and felt they needed to continue up, in order to be able to descend.
What happened next was a tragic freak accident. Ian’s fellow hikers are not going to forget that day. I suspect they may be plagued by “what ifs”, as anyone who has spent time with a loved one on their final day can attest.
These five need compassion and space to grieve. They don’t need an editorial in the South China Morning Post suggesting that they may have been at fault in their choices.
Vici Egan, teacher, South Island School