Ocean Park haunted-house death ruled accidental

Top News | Stella Wong 17 Sep 2019

The death of a student inside Ocean's Park's haunted house attraction two years ago was accidental, the Coroner's Court ruled yesterday.

Cheung Chiu-kit, 21, died after a series of misunderstandings by staff members inside the "Buried Alive" haunted house, including mistaking him for an employee.

Cheung, a second-year architectural student at Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, was at Ocean Park for the Halloween Fest on September 16, 2017.

He took the wrong path inside the attraction and walked to the bottom of another movable slide. He was pinned by a falling "coffin" and died that day.

Coroner Monica Chow Wai-choo said she was saddened by the accident and thanked Cheung's father for attending the hearing, which could not have been easy for him. Chow said the young Cheung slid down a slide in a "coffin" and walked toward the exit.

The park's actor, Lam Yau-sing, was supposed to stand near the exit but was behind a curtain. As a result, Lam did not see Cheung and was unable to guide him to the correct route.

The victim followed guiding lights to walk toward the back side of another slide.

A Filipino actor, Gerald Medalla, saw him walking in the wrong direction. The actor said he tried to "scare" him into going in the right direction while pointing to the exit, but Cheung did not react and seemed to know his way around. So he believed Cheung, who was wearing black, was a staff member and did not stop him.

Cheung then entered the back side of the other slide. The staff member monitoring the slide, Leung Pui-kei, thought he might have bumped into a ghost when he saw "a shadow" enter the area via a surveillance camera. He asked another colleague to double-check the footage but she did not find anyone.

Cheung was then hit on his back by a falling "coffin" on his back rendering him unconscious. His posture after he fell to the ground affected his breathing so he suffocated.

The coroner ruled that Cheung died from the back injury.

She said the Coroner's Court only looks into the cause of death and would not rule who should bear the responsibility for Cheung's death.

She said Ocean Park had already adopted measures to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.

Ocean Park yesterday said in a statement that all staff members were "deeply saddened by the tragic accident."

It said claims for the incident have been settled.

"We would like to offer our deepest condolences to the deceased's family once again," it said.

The theme park said it has maintained close contact with the family since the incident and provided them with assistance to address their needs.

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