A domestic helper was killed in a bizarre accident yesterday when a suicidal woman jumped off the roof of a building in Tai Koo Shing and landed on her.
Police said a 55-year-old spinster, surnamed Yee, plunged from the rooftop of Shun On Mansion in the private estate. She died on the spot after landing squarely on a Filipino maid, surnamed Rabe, 49, who was passing by.
Rabe was crushed and knocked unconscious. She was taken to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, but died of her injuries.
Police contacted Yee's family through the mobile phone she left at the scene. Family members said the suicide may have come about due to emotional distress arising from a quarrel with her boyfriend the night before.
Rabe was walking through the sitting-out area of the estate at the time, which was around 10am. Passersby thought there was an explosion when they heard a loud "bang."
Three eyewitnesses who were sitting a mere two meters away reported that Rabe was walking under the 32-story block and carrying two plastic bags full of food and water bottles. Officers cordoned off the scene and set up a green tent to cover the body.
A police officer said at the scene that Yee was not a resident of Shun On Mansion, but lived in Tai Koo Shing. Closed- circuit television footage showed that Yee gained access by following a resident into the building.
Residents said canopies are needed to cover the open space on the ground next to buildings to prevent passersby from getting hit by falling objects.
Officers also got in touch with the maid's employer who rushed to the hospital. The woman, who lives at Hing On Mansion in Tai Koo Shing, was distraught after hearing that Rabe had died, saying the maid had also been an intimate friend to the household for years.
Solicitor and Wong Tai Sin district councillor Wong Kwok-tung said Rabe's family is unlikely to receive employment insurance compensation as the accident happened on her day off.
"It is purely an accident and there is no wrongdoing involved," Wong said.
Joseph Law Kwan-din, chairman of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association, said it is tragic that Rabe passed by "the wrong place at the wrong time."
He added: "This accident underlines the importance of employers signing maids up to a comprehensive insurance policy that will give full compensation, for injuries sustained through accidents like these can happen any time."
On March 10, a man, 37, jumped off a building in To Kwa Wan and landed on an 84-year-old passerby.
The younger man died on the spot and the passerby died four days later.