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Death of boy who fell from Staples Center luxury box ruled an accident

La-me-lakers-boyWebThe L.A. County coroner has determined that the death of a toddler who fell from a luxury box at Staples Center after a Lakers game Sunday was an accident.

An autopsy of Lucas Anthony Tang determined the 2-year-old died of multiple traumatic injuries but found no evidence of foul play.

Lucas posed with his parents and his 11-year-old sister in front of a glass barrier meant to protect fans from the steep drop below. But as the family reviewed the pictures on their digital camera, they lost track of Lucas. In the moments that followed, the toddler somehow made his way over the barrier. He plummeted nearly 30 feet, landing on a row of empty plastic seats.

Lucas, who would have turned 3 in January, was pronounced dead at a hospital early Monday morning.

David Lara, a spokesman for the L.A. Department of Building and Safety, said the luxury box barriers fully complied with building codes when Staples Center was built and still do today.

The Los Angeles Police Department's juvenile division has launched an investigation into Lucas' death, which it said is routine in such a case.

A person who knows the family told The Times that the parents had kept a close eye on Lucas, who spent most of the game on his mother's lap.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

 
Comments () | Archives (46)

I have to agree that the barrier appears to be awfully lower considering there's such a sharp drop below. It may comply, but it's not making much sense unless you're an adult and even then, what would it take for a drunken adult to topple over?

I've sat in those seats many times. When my daughter was 2 or 3 I remember she almost did the same exact thing. I had to grab her and I remember thinking if my child was going to do this, so would another. Whoever created the standards of safety didn't have children. The danger is obvious to any parent who has ever brought their child to Staples Box seats. It's not JUST a case of parental negligence, but a tragically needless oversight by Staples and the so called Safety Board.

Staples Center needs to fix the railings, specifically their height. Having been at the luxury boxes on several occassions, as an adult I have had to make a mental note to not drink too much, in the fear of losing my balance and falling over. I'm 6'2 and the rail barely meets my waste.

How a 3 year old got up and over it though, I have no idea.

Parents are the "Protectors" of their children. The Tangs are guilt of negligence and child endangerment. They failed at protecting their child due to their self-indulgence in seeing themselves in a digital photo. They left their child at place of danger - irresponsible. If they were such attentive parents as pointed out in the article, then why not carry the child to see the photos - after all, he was in the photos too. Accidents happen ... This "Accident" could/should have been prevented. I have been to the luxury suites at the Staple Center many times and I had my 9 year old daughter with me. When we sat in the seats (sometimes near the glass partition), she was always protected with holding of hands, arm extension, or me placing myself between her and the glass partition - especially, when walking down the stairs to the seats. The glass partition is not very high and it is a minimal/close to being a useless safety barrier. My child always came first over the hoopla of being in a luxury suite/box. The Tangs got caught up with their rich friends/boss/or whomever ... negligently left their child in a place of danger. Now, their child is gone ...... They have a lifetime to live with their actions and behaviors - it was their responsibility to protect and ensure the safe welfare of their child. They failed, it was not an accident.

Marcy: Yes, God forbid we should do anything to disaccomodate those who spend all that money to see a ball game! Just because the building meets code now doesn't mean it can't do better. Buildings in 1933 met existing eathquake codes then too. There is nothing wrong with reviewing and exploring methods to ensure the safety of people, no matter what their economic status.

What would be worse than having your child die in an accident that you may have been able to prevent? Havng complete strangers criticize and blame you for the death of your child. Let us hope that on your worst day it isn't aired to the world for them to pick apart.

My thoughts are with little Lucas' family during what I am sure will be an incredibly difficult holiday season.

This is such a tragedy. What started out as a joyous family outing turns into the worst nightmare a parent can experience. RIP little Lucas and I hope your family can heal from this heartbreak.

As tragic as this incident is, it won't stop a slimeball plaintiff's attorney from
figuring out a way to file a lawsuit against Staples Center. After all, it is the
job of a plaintiff's attorney to make other people responsible for the consequences of the decisions of his/her client. Fault? A toddler much be watched all the time especially when away from home. During a brief span of unsupervised time, Lucas had enough time to figure out how to climb over the glass partition. I cannot imagine what the parents and his little sister are
going through right now. Time will soften the pain.

I am a mother, and I can't believe there are other parents who think they watch their child "at all time"! It's impossible! Horrible accidents happen in the blink of an eye, and although I consider myself a good mother, I know it's IMPOSSIBLE to keep your eyes on your child 100% of the time. Shame on any self righteous parent who tries to blame the parents in this case. They will never recover from this.

The parents failed to protect and monitor there sons whereabouts and are responsible for his fate. Take care of your children, they depend on parents to protect them. I see and care for children every year who are injured from their parents neglect. People want to say it's an accident, well it's not. The child who drowns to death because the parents lost track. The child who pulls the pan or skillet handle and is scared for life. The child who put his toy in the light socket and died. The child who ate the pretty colored pills, or the one who drank the koolaide looking antifreeze. Some died, some lived. The common cause was a parent not taking care of their child. The parents blame him, them, and everything but looking in the mirror and asking for forgiveness.

This incident reminds me of the movie "Syriana" where Matt Damon's son dies in freak accident in the pool of a Middle East prince, who then gives Damon's character millions of dollars in oil interests as well as a job. No doubt the parents will be suing the Lakers and the Staples Center for their own negligence. It's like when that grandma spilled hot coffee onto her own crouch at the McDonald's drive-thru and was awarded millions of dollars. It's no wonder an autopsy was performed. Still, something smells fishy. How can a 2 year-old be able to scale a 4 foot glass wall without the parents noticing? And the parents claimed to be looking at their digital camera and then "noticed" their son was missing and went to search for him? That's totally unbelievable if the child was right in front of them since they look their photos near the glass wall. And they had to "search" for him? As if they didn't notice their child's screams when he fell and the loud thud when he hit the ground 30 feet below? Or the screams and commotion of the people down below? There are reports of a large crowd that gathered below right when Lucas hit the ground and yet the parents had to "search" for their "missing" son? I've sat in those luxury suites, they are not that big. I hope the police does a proper investigation. People are saying we should feel sorry for the parents, well what about the poor child?! He didn't choose his parents and can you imagine being 2 years old and falling 30 feet to your death? He didn't die on impact, he suffered multiple traumas and was still moving his head, arms and legs and died 4 hours later. Can you imagine a more horrific end for a child? These "parents" should be jailed. We live in America, where everyone, yes even children, has human rights. This child's safety was not looked after and he paid the ultimate price.

My question would be 'where was the toddler set down on the floor'? Near the barrier? Some distance from the barrier? To all those who have comments knocking the people critical of the Tangs, I suppose you, especially the ladies, would have been of the same mindset if you was in that situation.

May the young man rest in peace. My family goes to dozens of games at the Staples Center to support our Lakers, but one question should be asked: Why were they not watching their kid? We sit in the 300 section, and believe me, when we sit in the front row, I hold my kids and make sure that they stay away from the rail. My wife holds them and I snap the pictures or vice-versa. I am not trying to kick the parents, they have enough to deal with, but for everyone in the future, watch your kids and hold onto them so that this never happens again. GO LAKERS, RIP young Mr. Tang. They should name a small section after him!!

I'm very sorry to hear about the family's loss. It's sad to see that common sense is no longer a presumed quality of humans both in terms of the, now grieving parents and those who designed, approved the installation of, inspected and signed off on -- via LA's Building and Safety Department -- these low glass barriers. What t difference a half foot or more might have made. The comments here also vary in reasoning, which I find interesting. And each one is correct in a way. Too much money often begets easy compromise in construction practices. There are no time machines when it comes to the overall safety of human beings, especially little ones. Never take your eyes off your young children when something, however small, suggests they may be in a position of possible danger. It's part of being a parent. Period. It was preventable unfortunately. There's also enough blame to go around to even others who were in the booth with the family at the time. When you see small children in your vicinity keep a watchful eye on them because it only takes a few seconds. No celebrity moment is more important than maybe grabbing the hand of or simply picking up and holding these precious ones. They may seem like bright children to you, yet do not have enough life experience to analyze a situation and save themselves from potentially dangerous surroundings or situations. That is a learned behavior, just like the time when your mom told you not to touch the top of the stove because it's hot. We eventually touch is anyway or, at least try to put our young hands near it and feeling the heat, make an immediate decision that we should move our hand away. Fight or flight. Lesson learned for some and for others, pain and tears the result in order to learn and remember for future reference. They're naturally curious, all children are. They really have no sense to fear heights and analyze the risk --it's not built in. The reasoning skills we develop as individuals is a function of time and cannot be taken for granted with toddlers especially. All of this to say, I empathize for the parent's and family's loss. May a sad tragedy as this serve as a wake up call to all parents. A cautionary tale, if you will.
Nothing is more precious than life and protecting it. Not even a second of inattention when you see young ones in your vicinity. We're all responsible for their safety. Good parental judgment dictates to grab their little hands or better, just pick them up and hold them, while possibly when in a situation or place where you attention might even momentarily be diverted or distracted. They can move quickly and get out of your view in mere seconds. I made it a practice with my family and still do with our children. It's the most important job I have as a father. We can only imagine they, the parents, and those in the booth, will blame themselves and feel the agony of the tragedy for a very long time, if not a lifetime. I will keep them in prayer, though. I still believe time heals wounds for most of us if we're willing to eventually forgive ourselves and others. Lessons to be learned and sometimes painfully. Yet I've found that everything happens for a reason. That's just life. My condolences again. -- Sed E. Nuff Compton.

Luffs, you disgust me. It is on YOU, the parent, to look out for your children. The barrier is high enough! I hate looking through it, but I know it must be there for idiots like you and these parents.

If they sue Staples Center, it will show what pieces of trash they are!

I have been in these suites many times, often with my kids. The glass partitions are very low and it is amazing that no adult has slipped on the steps down and gone over the edge, never mind a kid. I don't care what those regulations are you only need to stand there to know that the mystery is why someone hasn't fallen earlier.

To those parents who are critical of these parents we all know we have taken our eye off our own kids for a few seconds (we do it every day) and there but for the grace of god go we.

It is remarkable that the reaction of some people is to immediately blame the arena for not having a tall enough partition. Did it ever occur to you that an NBA game and in particular a luxury suite ARE NO PLACE TO BRING A 2-YEAR OLD!!!! It is a bustling place with tens of thousands of people. If you are going to bring your toddler, PAY ATTENTION EVERY MOMENT! Don't sit there and admire yourself on a digital camera while your kid takes what is likely a decent amount of time to climb the partition. Whether it's a luxury suite, traffic, your house, etc., the primary responsibility for any 2-year old lies with his or her parents rather than society. Period. People that always looks to blame "the man" or "they" or the world at large for events for which they should be responsible have a pathetic character. I especially love the people who have commented that the barrier in the suite is too low even for drunk people. Are you kidding me?????? No one is forcing you to drink. Here is a brilliant solution: DON'T GET DRUNK AT THE LAKERS GAME TO THE POINT WHERE YOU MIGHT FALL TO YOUR DEATH. Millions upon millions of people go to sporting events every year all this country without having their kid tragically die or dying themselves. So, maybe that should indicate the problem here wasn't the stupid barrier or security or the wind currents, but rather the people directly involved.

In some of the nose bleed seats the glass barrier is so low that it is an accident waiting to happen.

Only think I can say is that I hope this very tragic incident will raise awareness to watch your young children at all times so that nothing like this will ever happen again to anyone. I can not began to to imagine how this accident has affected the family and particularly the 11 year old sister who I would guess was told to keep an eye on him. My heart and prays go out to her the Tang family and friends.

Hey Lakerz4Life24,
Way to turn a tradegy into a speech against NORMAL ticket holders and people that don't BELONG. And, way to throw in a three-peat reference. It is going to be uncomfortable for the owners of the luxury suite? Nice perspective. Make sure you sign off with a "Go Lakers" capitalized with exclamation points.

To the family Iam very sorry for your tragic loss. I attended a game recently
in a suite and studied the environment. I could easily understand how a young
child could climb on the ledge and fall over the short glass partition. After
working as a safety specialist for many years and reviewing the location, a
preventive measure would be to lengthen the glass partitions in all or some
suites designated for families with small children. I know that any change
will be unpopular. After all accidents do not just happen, they are caused
by either an unsafe act or an unsafe condition. We can control the act and
correct the condition.

Ron P.

 
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