Sunday, August 16, 2009

Child survives 9-storey fall

Source: Straits Times Aug 11, 2009

By Kimberly Spykerman

The spot where three-year-old Sihu fell, now cordoned off (left), is covered in thick bushes, which helped cushion his fall. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A THREE-year-old boy miraculously survived a nine-storey fall after landing in a thick clump of bushes at Goldenhill Park Condominium in Lorong Chuan on Monday. The South Korean toddler was found conscious and wailing only minutes after he went missing from the family's rented four-room apartment.

Park Sihu - who turns four next month - was taken back upstairs to his distraught mother. Paramedics treated him for cuts and abrasions before rushing him to the KK Womens and Childrens' Hospital for further tests. Doctors there said that the boy escaped with little more than a fractured ankle as well as cuts to his chin, face and body.

When The Straits Times visited Sihu at the hospital on Monday afternoon, he was getting ready for an operation to fix his fractured right ankle. A large piece of plaster covered his chin. His mother, Madam Hanna Kim, was at his bedside. The 36-year-old homemaker felt her son was 'lucky' to have survived the fall. 'God must have protected him,' she said tearfully, stroking her son's forehead.

On Monday morning, Sihu had wandered into the guest bedroom, clambered onto the bed that was pushed against the open window, and toppled over the ledge.

Madam Kim said her daughters, aged seven and nine, were in the room as well but were studying and paid little attention to Sihu playing behind the curtains. She said she usually does not allow her son to play in that room unsupervised.

It was only when her daughters burst into her room to tell her that Sihu was missing, that she realised something was horribly wrong. 'When I heard from them that Sihu might have fallen out of the window, I thought...' she said, bursting into tears. Their domestic helper ran downstairs and found the boy.

Doctors The Straits Times spoke to said that surviving a fall like Sihu's was very unusual and that he was 'very lucky' to have fallen on bushes. Dr Victor Ong, a consultant at the National University Hospital's emergency medicines department said there are usually two reasons someone could survive such a fall:

  • The person hits items such as bamboo poles on the way down, thus slowing the speed of the fall and lessening the impact.

  • If the person lands on something soft - like the thick bushes in Sihu's case - the force is distributed across the whole body and so there is no sustained force in any particular area of the body.

    Madam Kim said that she will be asking her landlord to have metal grilles installed over all the windows in the apartment. 'It's not only to protect my family, but the next tenant's as well,' she said.

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