Instructor jailed for causing 9-year-old student to fall 4 stories from flying fox

Instructor’s lapse causes 9-year-old to fall 4 stories from flying fox

A freelance instructor was sentenced to two months jail today (26 Feb) after causing a then nine-year-old schoolgirl to fall four stories from a flying fox structure.

On 12 Feb 2020, Alvina Lee Peiyu, 34, failed to secure the student’s carabiner to the zipline cable appropriately. She had not attached it to the main “roperoller” on the zipline cable; instead, the carabiner was attached to the zipline cable only via a black cable tie.

Upon dispatch, the cable tie snapped as it was not intended to bear weight.

Source: Shin Min Daily News on Facebook

As a result, the victim sustained multiple fractures.

Failed to properly attach student to zipline cable

According to a CNA article, the victim participated in her school’s ‘Outdoor Education Modular Programme’ when she was in Primary Four. A gag order protects her identity.

At that time, Lee was a freelance instructor with outdoor education firm Innotrek, which the school had recruited. She had undergone the necessary training to set up zipline activities and was well aware of the associated dangers.

Tasked with the role of dispatching instructor, Lee had to make sure the students’ personal protective equipment (PPE) was safely secured.

Lee attached the zipline pulley to the zipline cable, and the pulley to the victim’s harness.

However, crucially, she had failed to ensure that the girl’s carabiner was attached to the zipline cable’s ‘roperoller’, which is its main device.

The carabiner was attached to the zipline cable only via a cable tie that was meant to secure parts together.

Victim fell 11m to the ground and suffered multiple fractures

Among the students participating in the activity, the victim was the seventh participant in the lineup. Upon dispatch, the cable tie broke.

As the dispatching platform was on the school’s fourth storey, the victim fell 11m to the ground.

The impact left her with fractures to her left elbow, right hip and left pelvis. The Straits Times (ST) reported that she remained in the hospital for 15 days.

Imposing high fine isn’t suitable: Deputy Public Prosecutor

In court, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sunil Nair said merely imposing Lee with a high fine was not suitable. He emphasised the victim’s young age, and that children entrusted their instructors with “complete faith”.

Lee was represented by defence lawyer Phyllis Wong of Infinitus Law. Ms Wong expressed that Lee was genuinely apologetic about the grave lapse in safety procedures.

Additionally, Ms Wong shared that following the accident, Lee developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and adjustment disorder.

The Straits Times article quoted her as saying that Lee is now “hyper aware and obsessed about safety” after the incident. On behalf of Lee, she pleaded leniency.

However, District Judge Shawn Ho stressed that the accident could have resulted in fatal consequences.

He pointed out that this was a high element case where participants were fully dependent on the guidance and supervision of trained instructors in an “inherently risky activity”.

For endangering human life due to negligence, Lee will serve a jail sentence of two months. She could have been jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$5,000 or both.

Also read: Schools Stop Outdoor High-Element Activities After Student’s Death, MOE & ACS(I) Supporting His Family

Schools Stop Outdoor High-Element Activities After Student’s Death, MOE & ACS(I) Supporting His Family

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Featured image adapted from Shin Min Daily News on Facebook.


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