Hong Kong protests: father of student who died after car park fall recalls night son left home dressed in black
- Alex Chow’s last message to his family was ‘close the windows’, after his worried father texted him past midnight on police’s tear gas at nearby protest
- Cause of youth’s death remains unknown, but incident was one of the controversies that erupted during city’s months-long social unrest
But Alex Chow Tsz-lok, carrying a backpack, left in silence without addressing his parents’ concerns, his father Chow Tak-ming recalled, adding the youth’s lack of reaction was consistent with how he had usually interacted with his parents before he was found unconscious at a car park in Tseung Kwan O on November 4, 2019.
The senior Chow testified on Monday at the Coroner’s Court, which is tasked with ascertaining the cause and circumstances of the death of the 22-year-old, after he fell from height while a police clearance operation was under way at a protest scene nearby.
Alex Chow died four days after the fall. He had sustained severe head injuries, with two surgeries unable to save his life.
The court heard that protesters had assembled in the vicinity of Sheung Tak Estate car park and barricaded roads overnight between November 3 and 4, following online calls to gather outside a hotel in the neighbourhood, where an officer was said to be holding a wedding banquet.
Police had fired tear gas and beanbag rounds in a bid to disperse protesters, the court was told.
The university student left his flat at Beverly Garden at around 11.40pm, while his parents were watching television in the living room. Around that time, protesters had blocked roads around Kwong Ming Court and Sheung Tak Estate – next to the family’s home.
Chow Tak-ming said his son wore a nearly all-black outfit that night: a black top, deep-grey coloured shorts, black running shoes and a black cap, carrying a dark backpack. The deceased did not tell his family why he was going out.
“I told him: ‘Be careful if you are going out’,” Chow said. “Because we all learned from the news. Protesters had blocked roads ... Police might fire tear gas or even beat people up, so I reminded him to be careful.”
The older man sent a message to his son via WhatsApp at 12.46am, moments before he went to sleep, telling him that police had fired tear gas at protesters.
His son replied two minutes later: “Close the windows” – the last message sent to his family.
But Chow’s son never regained consciousness, and his parents agreed four days later to stop treating him after he had a heart failure.
The Year Three computer science student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was described as a positive-minded and diligent student, who was a regular on the university’s netball team.
While the father revealed in court that his son did not talk much to his parents and often hid himself in his bedroom while at home, he did not find any irregularities in the youth’s behaviour.
The inquest is expected to last 25 days, with 40 witnesses set to give evidence in court. The hearing continues on Tuesday before Coroner Ko Wai-hung and a five-member jury.