YOUR SAY: Kingston shoppers and the leader of the council have called for better safety measures inside the Bentall Centre after a teenager fell to his death from the balcony last week.
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Former Coombe Boys’ School pupil Joon Kyu Kim, 15, fell from the top floor just before 5pm on Thursday.
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The Korean student who had just completed GCSE exams landed on the basement floor outside Mothercare, with witnesses describing a “sickening thud”.
Kingston Council leader Kevin Davis tweeted: “Desperate news of boy falling to death in Bentalls Centre. Not the first to die this way. Time for talks on how to prevent future incidents.”
In January 2011 mother-of-two Alexis Sims, 45, from Teddington, who suffered from depression, killed herself after jumping from the top floor.
An open letter sent to the management of the Bentall Centre by a witness read: “I wrote to yourselves on the day of this horrendous and terrible tragedy, saying that the poor boy landed only feet away from myself, my wife and two young daughters [aged 10 and eight] to which we never got a response.
“Since we witnessed this tragedy, I have had only four hours sleep as all I keep seeing is his poor motionless body laying there and hearing that sickening thud as his young body smashed into the ground.
“My children [fingers crossed]seem to be dealing with it fine, but only time will tell. I'm sure there are other people out there who are not and would like counselling.
“Because of the centre’s lack of safety netting especially seeing that a lady jumped a while back I was just curious if you might as a group try and offer counselling for the families and young people that saw this tragic accident right in front of their own eyes? And maybe, just maybe, put up a safety net to prevent this from happening again.”
Others have taken to Twitter to vent their safety concerns.
Tony Axelrod tweeted: “The tragedy at the Bentall Centre yesterday must prompt action to screen off high levels. How many more incidents does there have to be?”
JadieeBoooo tweeted: “Seriously the Bentall Centre need to change the security measures to prevent people commuting suicide!”
Zoe Homewood said: “The kids section should be moved rather than be in the basement where they land.”
Zsuzsika Mai tweeted: “To avoid further situations like this, they need to change things, make the barriers higher or add nets or something.”
Shoppers were led out of the building and police cordoned off the area while paramedics attended to Joon, who had been at school earlier in the day.
He died at St George’s Hospital at about 6.15pm on Thursday evening.
Witnesses including children saw Joon fall.
A spokesman from the Bentall Centre said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic incident that occurred on Thursday 17 July and extend our heartfelt sympathy to the deceased’s family as well as those who witnessed what happened.
“A police investigation is currently underway and the Health and Safety Executive are also undertaking an audit. The centre is co-operating fully with the authorities.”
A postmortem is due to take place this week.