Volunteer Ropes Course Instructor in Singapore Sentenced to Jail for Death of Student


A 15-year-old student died in February 2021 from complications related to asphyxiation after the leg loops of his harness came undone while he was navigating a high ropes course in Singapore. The volunteer instructor responsible for checking that participants’ equipment was properly secured has been sentenced to six months in jail for failing to perform his duties, resulting in the student’s death.

According to a report by Singapore’s Today, Muhammad Nurul Hakim Mohamed Din, 23, was volunteering with Camelot, an outdoor adventure learning company that was conducting an outdoor adventure experiential program at SAFRA Adventure Sports Centre in Yishun, organized by the student’s school. Nurul Hakim had completed an adventure instructor course conducted by Camelot in November 2020. 

The 28-student class went through ground school before heading to the ropes course, where Nurul Hakim was stationed at the starting point and tasked with doing final checks to ensure participants’ helmets, full-body harnesses, and safety lines were properly secured before sending them out onto the course, which was reportedly five stories high. It was his first time in that role. Two other instructors were stationed on-course between obstacles. 

The report said Nurul Hakim only visually inspected four of the first 12 students’ equipment. The victim in the case, Jethro Puah Xin Yang, was the twelfth participant. 

After successfully completing the first obstacle, Jethro fell while negotiating the second—a “postman walk” requiring participants to hold onto a rope while walking sideways on a metal cable. As he hung from the life line, the leg loops of his harness eventually came unbuckled and he hung from the shoulder straps of his harness by his armpits. 

Attempts by instructors to lift him back up failed, and he told instructors he was suffocating. They finally called for the rescue bag to belay Jethro to the ground. An instructor had to connect himself to Jethro before they could be lowered. It took more than half an hour from the time Jethro fell to get him to the ground. By then, he had stopped breathing and had no pulse, according to the Today report, and succumbed to his injuries the following day at the hospital. 

Nurul Hakim pleaded guilty to causing grievous hurt to Jethro through a rash act by illegally omitting to ensure both his leg loops were properly buckled and adjusted before sending the student onto the course.  

Camelot and one of its “officers” have also been charged with crimes related to “workplace safety lapses,” according to another report by Today. Both the company and the officer are accused of failing to ensure proper training and instruction were provided to instructors on rescue operations if a rope harness becomes loose or unsecured, failing to ensure adequate supervision in the donning of safety harnesses by participants, and failing to ensure the harnesses were properly maintained. Their cases will be heard in February.


About Author

Dave Meeker is the senior editor for Adventure Park Insider. He has a background in marketing, public relations, and writing in the mountain resort industry. Before joining the team at API, Dave was the marketing director for Mount Snow in Vermont. What better way to try and conquer a slight fear of heights than to work at a magazine that covers adventure parks? He couldn't think of one.

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