Bengaluru: Accident exposes poor safety at malls

On Saturday, Leah Regina, a 19-year-old college girl, died after accidentally falling 30 feet from the second-floor window of Fifth Avenue

The accidental death of a college girl in a shopping mall on Brigade Road has once again laid bare the issue of safety in public places such as shopping malls and other commercial establishments.

On Saturday, Leah Regina, a 19-year-old college girl, died after accidentally falling 30 feet from the second-floor window of Fifth Avenue.

Named after a major thoroughfare in New York’s Manhattan area, Fifth Avenue was touted as Bengaluru’s first shopping mall when it opened in 1990.

Business boomed for many years as Bengalureans thronged the place for a modern shopping experience. But the arrival of new-age and better-constructed shopping malls eventually took the sheen off Fifth Avenue.

Today, the four-storey building is a shadow of its former self. Save for the first two floors, the mall is largely deserted.

“Business isn’t what it used to be. Most people come here only for window shopping,” said S Shivaram, who runs an elevator firm in the building.

Tepid sales have driven away traders which, in turn, has affected the upkeep of the place.

Many parts of the shopping mall are not well lit. The escalators no longer work because traders cannot afford to pay for electricity. CCTV surveillance is patchy and infrastructure is shabby.

The fibreglass window panel, through which Regina crashed down, hadn’t aged well. So when Regina leaned against it, it just gave away.

Chris Peter, 19, a classmate who also fell down along with Regina, has injured his right calf. While he is alert and conscious, he is too shocked to tell the police more about how the accident happened. Police plan to question him once he recovers.

Police were initially told that Regina had gone to the washroom while Peter waited for her. As they walked down the stairs, she tripped over and crashed through the window. But there is no washroom there, according to police.

Police plan to question the friends who accompanied the teens during the visit.

(Published 21 May 2022, 19:13 IST)

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