Toddler's death at Jewel mall: Mirror fell on child after 2 boys played behind it

One-year-old Lai Jiaxin sustained fatal injuries after she was crushed by a large mirror that fell on her inside the Urban Revivo store at Jewel Changi Airport in August last year. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Two boys were playing around a larger mirror at a retail store in the Jewel Changi Airport mall when the it toppled onto a toddler, causing her fatal injuries.

The 2m-high, 116.5kg mirror landed on one-year-old Lai Jiaxin, leaving her unconscious. The Chinese national later died of head injuries at Changi General Hospital.

CCTV footage from the Urban Revivo clothing store that captured the incident in August last year was played during a Coroner’s Court hearing on Thursday (2 April).

In it, Jiaxin’s six-year-old brother and a male friend were seen squeezing behind the mirror while Lai stood in front of it. The mirror was seen falling seconds after the other boy emerged from behind it.

More details were also shared by the case’s investigating officer Sarah Habibah. Jiaxin’s family was not present for the hearing but was represented by counsel Richard Siaw.

Details of the case

Jiaxin and some others visited Jewel Changi Airport on 23 August last year prior to their flight back to Fujian province in China.

At around 12.30pm, the group – including Jiaxin’s mother, grandmother, brother, her mother’s friend, her mother’s friend’s mother and two other children – entered the Urban Revivo store. While the two mothers tried on clothes, the children were watched over by the two grandmothers.

One of the grandmothers told the investigating officer that she had tried to keep up with the children, who were playing in the store, and said she heard the other grandmother warning the children not to play near the mirror. A store supervisor also told investigators that one of the grandmothers had been approached with regard to the children’s behaviour.

CCTV footage showed Jiaxin’s brother and the other boy, also aged six, playing in store’s display area – where they bumped into a mannequin – prior to the accident.

A short while later, the two boys squeezed themselves behind the standing mirror. As one of the grandmothers walked past the mirror, Jiaxin’s brother emerged from behind it. His friend followed suit and the mirror toppled shortly after, falling onto Jiaxin.

The two grandmothers and a staff member had to lift the mirror off the child, who was found bleeding from the nose and mouth. A passerby and a Changi Airport staff member used an automated external defibrillator on the unresponsive girl. 

After the ambulance arrived, paramedics applied cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Jiaxin but she remained unconscious. Apart from head injuries, the girl was found with abrasions to her limbs and internal injuries to her scalp, skull, brain, neck, airways and lungs.

All the store’s remaining standing mirrors of the same model have since been removed from the store and the shop’s display area has been barricaded. Clothes railings have also since been pushed against the wall to minimise gaps, while other mirrors have been screwed to the floor to prevent them from falling over. 

Urban Revivo’s chief legal officer also told the police that the mirrors had gone through multiple rounds of designs and safety checks before they were pushed out to stores.

The mirror that fell had a width of 0.6m and a thickness of 0.05m. When placed against the wall, the mirror’s base was a slight distance away from the wall. The stability of the mirror was considered during its design process, and no issues had been reported since the store’s opening.

It was also installed according to safety regulations and all the mirrors were subject to a joint inspection by staff from Changi Airport and Urban Revivo, along with an independent audit team. 

According to investigations, the mirror was kept away from passages with high customer traffic and against walls to prevent people from walking behind it or accidentally knocking it down, the court heard. 

Findings into Jiaxin’s death will be delivered on 15 April. 

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