Mall operator: Balloon stick distracted dad who dropped girl

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GEORGE TOWN: The father of a three-year-old girl who fell from his shoulders and plunged to the ground floor while riding on an escalator in a mall on Sunday, was distracted by his son who had shoved a balloon stick into a nook of the moving stairs, says the mall operator.

In a statement today, Kompleks Bukit Jambul JMB (KBJ) said according to its internal investigations, the brother of the girl had shoved a balloon stick into the escalator brush.

“Upon reaching the first floor, the boy tripped and got his finger stuck in the escalator.

“The mother tried to hold the boy but stumbled backward. After seeing the incident, the father (who had the girl astride on his shoulders) panicked while helping his wife and son.

“It appears that he had forgotten that his daughter was on his shoulders, causing the girl to fall down. The boy then somehow managed to free his finger,” the mall said in a statement today.

KBJ added that the girl had initially laid unconscious without a heartbeat and was revived by a medical practitioner who happened to be nearby.

The mall operator said a recent visit to the Penang Hospital revealed that the girl was in a stable condition.

“The safety of children should be the priority of all parents. KBJ advises all shoppers, especially family members, to comply with the dos and don’ts of using escalators which are posted there,” it added.

The girl was diagnosed as having brain haemorrhage after she cracked her skull.

A netizen posted an account of the incident on Facebook after witnessing it at 6.30pm on Sunday.

Yuana Che Ariff claimed to have witnessed the whole incident as she was standing behind the family.

“I was standing directly behind the family. It started when the couple’s son fell at the end of the escalator. His fingers got stuck on the handrail. The mother tried to remove his fingers. He appeared to be slightly injured.

“Then the father wanted to check on the (boy’s) injuries. Maybe he forgot his daughter was sitting on his shoulders. He bowed down to check on the injuries, causing the girl to fall off,” she said.

“They were standing beside the escalator’s handrail, and then this thing happened. In front of my eyes. I still cannot forget how the child’s body fell,” she added in the same posting.

Her posting has since gone viral and has been shared by hundreds.

Northeast district police chief Assistant Commissioner Mior Faridalatrash Wahid said police would look into the posting.

“We are trying to identify the actual cause of the incident and will look into everything.

“We want to find out the truth and not to find fault with anyone,” he added, noting that investigations were underway.

The girl’s father will be investigated under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 for exposing the child to physical harm.

In June last year, a 15-month-old toddler lost her hand after her wrist got caught between a escalator. She was reported to have been playing near the escalator at the time of the incident.

Some 3,000 escalators and lifts in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya had been deemed unsafe by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) in 2014, as they did not meet safety standards.

According to the department, there were 111 accidents related to faulty lifts and escalators since 2010, of which 11 resulted in deaths.

DOSH Director-General Mohtar Musri said from 2011 to May 2015, 97 per cent of escalator accidents involved children.