Police eye death of boy who fell at Staples Center
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The family of a 2-year-old boy was posing for pictures in a luxury suite high inside Staples Center when he managed to scale a clear safety barrier and fell about 30 feet to his death, police said on Monday.
Lucas Anthony Tang suffered head injuries Sunday when he landed on rows of seats minutes after the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors 117-89, police said. The boy later died at a hospital.
“Somehow the child went over the edge of the section,” Officer Julie Sohn said.
Police were releasing few details about the incident as they tried to determine what happened.
Sohn said the boy’s family was taking photographs at the time of the fall.
The Los Angeles Times, citing unidentified police sources, said the toddler’s family was looking at digital photographs and lost track of him. He somehow got over the top of the glass barrier, the newspaper reported.
Sohn, however, said she could not confirm those details.
The luxury boxes have tiers of seats, fronted by concrete walls. Atop the walls are glass barriers. The barrier varies in height but at its lowest point is about the height of an adult’s waist, said Michael Roth, a spokesman for Staples and owner, AEG.
Roth said the toddler fell into a general seating area about 30 rows up from the court.
Initial estimates put the child’s fall at about 50 feet, but Roth later said the third tier of boxes is three stories up, or about 30 feet.
Witnesses said the boy was moving his arms, legs and head when paramedics put him in an ambulance, Roth said.
The 950,000-square-foot stadium opened in 1999 and has 160 luxury suites on three levels.
“In 11 years, we’ve never had an incident like this,” he said.
The building is in compliance with city codes, Department of Building and Safety spokesman David Lara said.
Building regulations require guardrails that are at least 26 inches high in front of seats, he said. Guardrails in front of stairs must be 42 inches high.
The police department’s juvenile division, which has investigative responsibility when a victim is under age 11, was handling the probe. “It’s procedural” and did not necessarily indicate that a crime was involved, Sohn said.
The arena was conducting its own investigation, Roth said.
Roth declined to release details about the boy’s family but said the luxury box — as with most suites — probably was owned by a corporation.
“Our condolences and prayers go to the Tang family,” Roth said a short prepared statement.
The Lakers organization issued a statement expressing shock and sadness at the tragedy.
“To go from a moment of happiness and enjoyment, to the loss of this boy’s life, is tragic and heartbreaking. We would like to ask Lakers fans to join us in keeping Lucas and his family in our thoughts and prayers,” the statement said.
Roth said Monday night’s game between the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Hornets would go on as scheduled.
The arena is home to the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
Adjacent to the popular LA Live entertainment complex, Staples is also one of the city’s major venues for concerts and special events such as the Grammy Awards.
Associated Press writer Robert Jablon contributed to this report.
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