Ocean Park closes Halloween attraction after man found dead inside haunted house
Theme park investigating first fatal accident since annual festival began in 2001
Hong Kong’s Ocean Park has closed its Halloween-themed haunted house after a 21-year-old man died inside it.
Police received the alert from the amusement park at 2.06pm Saturday and confirmed a man surnamed Cheung had been certified dead at Ruttonjee Hospital.
Cheung was a friend of an employee of a Swire Group subsidiary, the conglomerate confirmed. The group’s staff association had arranged a visit to the park from 1 to 11pm Saturday for an annual staff event.
Ocean Park CEO Matthias Li Sing-chung said Cheung was found passed out five minutes after he had entered the haunted house. The area where he was found was supposed to be “a place for our staff to carry out some maintenance work”, according to Eva Au Yeung Yee-wah, the park’s director of events and entertainment.
Called Buried Alive, the attraction consists of a slide and haunted house. Guests take the slide to enter the haunted house alone as part of a “single-player” experience.
A park spokeswoman said Cheung ventured “by mistake” into a backstage area open only to staff after he had finished the slide and entered the haunted house.
Greg Wong Chak-yan, a registered structural engineer, said such an area should normally be locked to prevent guests from inadvertently entering it.
“A haunted house should be designed to offer a single way out for visitors,” the former MTR staff member said. “If an emergency exit is required, a sign should be posted.”
Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, chairwoman of the Legislative Council’s justice and legal services panel, believed the park had more to answer for than saying Cheung entered the area “by mistake”.
Leung said it would be a point of legal contention whether signs provided by the park were clear and effective inside the haunted house, a place she described as dark and leaving visitors in a fearful state.
“Under such circumstances, shouldn’t an area closed to guests simply be locked or equipped with automatic lighting?” the barrister asked.
Li said medics at the park had administered first aid to Cheung and called an ambulance as soon as they found him.
The park and Swire Group offered their “deepest condolences” to the victim and his family. Li added that the needs of Cheung’s family would be appropriately addressed.
The death marked the first fatal accident at the attraction since it was introduced in 2001.
Au-yeung said the case was under investigation.
The park has closed the attraction to facilitate an investigation into the incident by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department.
The department believed Cheung was hit by “moving parts of the slide” in an area normally closed off to visitors and that the accident did not involve mechanical failure.
The slide, measuring 4.5 metres long and 2.5 metres high, was approved by the department on Thursday after passing a comprehensive examination by independent inspectors, it added.
The park is not allowed to reopen the attraction until the department lifts its suspension order.
The park’s Halloween festival is open to the public from October 5.