Student's death from 11.78m fall ruled a tragic misadventure
Coroner rules student's 12m death fall as misadventure
The dare was not directed at her, but Spectra Secondary School student Shina Adriana Hendricks Jones, 14, thought she could do it.
The Secondary 2 student then climbed over a railing on the fourth storey of her school and jumped down to a 52cm-wide parapet below. (See artist's impression below.)
Sadly, she landed on the edge of the parapet, lost her balance and fell 11.78m last October. She died in hospital later.
Delivering his findings during an inquiry into her death yesterday, State Coroner Marvin Bay said Shina's death was a tragic misadventure.
The inquiry also dispelled earlier speculation that it was a parkour stunt gone wrong.
In parkour, practitioners try to get from one point to another in the fastest way by jumping, climbing and vaulting.
Mr Bay said Shina's parents were clear that their youngest daughter never expressed any interest in the activity.
He added: "The allusions to parkour, taunting, bullying or being out on a dare to undertake a dangerous stunt are not borne out by subsequent investigations."
Mr Bay also said Shina was usually cheerful and had never exhibited any suicidal tendencies.
"She was emotionally robust and not easily bullied by other persons," he said.
Shortly before the tragedy in the school at Woodlands Drive 64 on Oct 20 last year, Shina and her schoolmates had watched a movie in a fourth-storey room.
The students were released at 9.10am for a toilet break.
During the break, one of her classmates, identified only as Classmate C, placed his left foot on the top of the 1.13m-tall railing to stretch his leg.
None of Shina's schoolmates can be named as they are minors.
A group of boys then challenged him to climb over the railing and stand on the parapet below.
Senior investigation officer, Inspector Elaine Kho, told the court yesterday that the distance from the top of the railing to the parapet is about 1.82m.
When Classmate C declined the challenge, the group continued pressuring him, causing him to retort angrily: "You all talk so much, you all do, lah."
Though the comment was not directed at Shina, who was standing nearby, she went forward and told him that she could do it.
No teachers were present there at the time.
Another student, Classmate D, saw the 1.54m-tall girl climb the railing and sit momentarily on it before executing her landing on the edge of the parapet. But she lost her balance and fell to the ground.
Insp Kho said: "The witnesses did not see anyone push the deceased or see anyone try to block the deceased from climbing back over the railing."
The school principal, Mr Krishnan Aravinthan, found out about the incident when he heard students screaming.
When he reached Shina, she was unresponsive and not breathing.
A teacher, Ms Christina Camillus Lim, alerted emergency services at 9.30am and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the girl.
An automated external defibrillator was also prepared for use on Shina, and Ms Lim continued performing CPR until Singapore Civil Defence Force paramedics arrived 10 minutes later.
Shina was taken in an ambulance to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and transferred to KK Women's and Children's Hospital at 4.40pm that day.
She had suffered traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, and multiple fractures to her skull. She was pronounced dead at 12.15am the next day.
Her parents, two older sisters, and an aunt, Ms Sandra Ross, 46, attended the inquiry yesterday.
When it ended, her father, Mr Andre James Hendricks Jones, burst into tears. Her parents declined to comment when approached.
Ms Ross said they were too distraught to speak about the tragedy.
Speaking on their behalf, she said: "My brother still visits Shina's grave once a week. We just want a closure. It has been very hard for us."
Responding to media queries, a spokesman for Spectra Secondary School said: "We will always remember Shina fondly as a happy student and she will be dearly missed. We hope to move on as a school community from here."
She was emotionally robust and not easily bullied by other persons.
- State Coroner Marvin Bay, who said Shina's death was a tragic misadventure
TNP INFOGRAPHICS: CELESTINO GULAPA