Homeless woman found dead at Hong Kong McDonald’s 24 hours after she sat down as unaware customers ate

Social welfare groups have raised concerns about the lack of support for people living on the fringes of society

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 October, 2015, 1:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 October, 2015, 6:42pm

Police are trying to confirm the identity of a homeless woman who was found dead in a 24-hour McDonald’s outlet at a public housing estate in Kowloon Bay yesterday morning.

The case has raised concern among social welfare groups about the lack of support for people living on the fringes of society.

The woman, aged around 50 to 60 years, was found slumped over her table in a quiet corner, 24 hours after she entered the restaurant at Ping Shek Estate, while other customers were unaware what had happened.

She was 1.6 metres tall, with short black hair and wearing black-rimmed glasses. She was dressed in a gray long-sleeved overcoat, white t-shirt and black trousers, and wore slippers. Although she had a bag and a wallet on her, she had no identification documents.

It is believed she was a street-sleeper who regularly spent her nights in McDonald’s.   

At around 8:30am yesterday, a McDonald’s customer called police after finding the woman unconscious and cold at her table. She was confirmed dead at the scene. 

According to police, there was nothing suspicious about her death upon initial investigation. 

CCTV footage showed the woman entering the restaurant at 8:39am the previous day – 24 hours before she was found dead – and sitting at a table near the bathroom. At 1:20am yesterday, she suddenly slumped over the table. Nobody paid her any attention and customers ate their late-night meals around her.

It was back to bustling business as usual while police carried out their investigations yesterday morning. The area she had sat in was cordoned off, and customers were navigating around it to find seats.

Her body was taken away to a mortuary through the back door at around 11:30 am, and by 1pm all tables were open to customers. 

A spokesman for McDonald’s Hong Kong expressed grief over the incident, promising that the fast food chain would cooperate with police in their investigation.The Ping Shek Estate restaurant was cleaned and disinfected immediately after the incident, he said.

McDonald's clarified that the woman had not ordered any food, but staff noticed she was moving, and had asked for water from the counter.

"To complement the modern lifestyle of people in Hong Kong, some McDonald’s restaurants operate 24 hours a day. We welcome everyone to visit out restaurants any time," the spokesman said.

“In order to provide a pleasant dining environment, we would not disturb our customers, but our service will be offered promptly upon request.”