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Staples Center box where toddler fell to death met city codes

November 22, 2010 |  6:38 pm

  L.A. building officials said Monday that the luxury box where a toddler fell to his death after a Lakers game complied with all city codes.

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

The toddler, Lucas Anthony Tang, who was 2, somehow made his way over the guardrail on Sunday night. 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.

Officials at Staples Center said it was the first fatality of its kind at the arena, which opened a decade ago. Although falls from luxury boxes appear to be exceedingly rare, Lucas’ death raised questions about the safety of stadium skyboxes, which are  high above the arena floor and  guarded by barriers as low as 26 inches.

In 2009, an employee at  Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego tripped and fell in a suite in the stadium’s press box during a Chargers game.

Walt Daniels, 66, died after falling at least 30 feet to the concrete  below. After the accident, Cal/OSHA called for a number of safety improvements at that stadium. The agency  concluded that the skybox barrier was too low and ordered that 42-inch guardrails be installed. The Chargers appealed the mandate, saying that such  high barriers would block sightlines.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s  juvenile division has launched an investigation into Lucas’ death. The department said it is routine in such cases.

The L.A. County coroner’s office said Lucas suffered severe head trauma but has  not determined the exact cause of death.

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--Kate Linthicum, Andrew Blankstein and Ben Fritz