Student who died after Hong Kong haunted house accident ‘may have missed dim warning sign’
Fatal accident at theme park ‘may have been caused by coffin slide that carries visitors into the haunted house’
A 21-year-old student who died after he was hit by the movable bottom of a coffin in a Hong Kong haunted house may have failed to notice a restricted area because of a dim warning sign.
A source with knowledge of the case said it took several minutes before the unconscious man, Cheung Chiu-kit, was found by staff at Ocean Park after the incident happened.
Cheung was taken unconscious to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai, where he was certified dead soon after his arrival.
“Injuries found on the victim’s body might not be the fatal wound. An autopsy will be carried out to ascertain the cause of the death,” the source said, adding that Cheung had no history of any major illness.
Cheung and his friend had played Buried Alive, one of 11 Halloween-themed attractions in the theme park, shortly before 2pm on Saturday while his girlfriend waited outside the haunted house.
Guests are asked to lay down inside a coffin before the bottom drops and turns into a slide carrying guests down into the haunted house.
According to sources, Cheung slid down to the haunted house where he walked around for about two to three minutes before entering the restricted area.
Eva Au Yeung Yee-wah, the park’s director of events and entertainment, said on Saturday that the area where he was found was supposed to be “a place for our staff to carry out maintenance work”.
“It is possible the victim tried to find his friend in the haunted house, failed to notice the dim warning signs and entered the restricted area by mistake,” the source said.
“An initial investigation showed the victim was hit by the bottom of another coffin when it was being lowered.”
A police source said initial investigation found nothing suspicious over the death and officers would compile a death report for the Coroner’s Court.
The death marked the first fatal accident at the attraction since it was introduced in 2001.
“This will have a reputational impact for sure. Some people may reconsider going,” former Ocean Park chairman Allan Zeman said.
“Hopefully [Ocean Park] can learn from the investigation ... and hopefully time can heal something like that so they can continue to be prudent.”
Zeman said the theme park must assure people that they will have a good experience while visiting. “People have to feel safe,” he said. “Safety is the number one priority for Ocean Park.”
Buried Alive was the only Halloween attraction that had a mechanical design, which had been previously checked by Electrical and Mechanical Services Department. The other attractions are walk-through only.
An Ocean Park spokeswoman said they would review the security arrangements for the park’s other Halloween attractions, which remained open. Only Buried Alive was closed after the accident.