back to article Texting teenager plunges to his death

An Australian teenager has died after he fell from a multi-storey car park while typing a text message. 19-year-old Ryan Robbins escorted a couple of women to their car late last Friday, in Melbourne. After they parted ways, Ryan began texting a friend, while walking. He did not notice the railing - about waist-high - and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In before the Darwin Award reference

    Probably not actually.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    How on earth do you "trip" over a 1 metre barrier?

    I'm sorry that the incident happened, but it's bollocks that he 'didn't notice the railing'. A waist-high railing is impossible to ignore. He either lunged for the phone as he lost his grip on it and went over the edge, or the railing was not waist-high or collapsed. Bad reporting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can I coin the term

      'Assisted selection' for when technology and stupidity combine with fatal results?

      Or have i been beaten to the punch?

      1. Jhokur
        Thumb Up

        *slow clap*

        I like it - mind if I borrow it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          On you go

          I'm regretting posting as AC now.

          In before Spartacus.

          1. Spartacus

            Damn you!

            must try harder...

        2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          "Assisted selection"

          There's an app for that!

      2. Charles Manning



    2. PacketPusher

      I don't think so...

      Remember a human's center of gravity is above the waist. If you run into a waist high barrier at a normal to fast walk, you can go over.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Not necessarily

        There is a clip on YouTube of a women falling straight into a shopping centre's fountain because she was too busy texting to look where she was going.

        I guess the moral is don't walk and text, or if you do, know the route you're walking. And if at all possible try to avoid walking & texting at the top of car parks, high rise buildings, ravines, crevasses, rope bridges or anywhere else where your attention should be concentrating on not plunging to your death.

        1. Cameron Colley


          The fountain lady didn't die though. I'd liken it to the death penalty debate: should paying far too much attention to your phone result in ridicule or death as a penalty?

          He should not have been so taken up in his texting that he didn't see the fall -- but human eyes aren't any good at distance vision outside the area they are focused on, and I don't think it is too much to expect a publicly-accesible building to have a barrier on the roof capable of stopping someone walking off.

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            I know she didn't die

            I'm just pointing out people sometimes don't look where they're going when they're texting and illustrated it with an example people can find on YouTube. Some people appeared to doubt it was possible is all.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          And how high is the border of said fountain?

          Knee-high (if you watched the movie you can see it clearly). Knee-high != waist-high. Knee-high means a MUCH larger proportion of the body's mass is above the fulcrum point and yes, then the body will pitch over and into the water of the fountain.

          As for the comments that castigate me for questioning the waist-high comment, I'm taller than most (6'4"), and I have yet to go OVER something that's waist-high even if I tried.

          Now the kerb stumble would possibly make physical sense, provided the angle is right.

          And if you bothered to read, I questioned the quality of the reporting, which was by someone ALIVE, not the sod who went over the edge.

    3. The Indomitable Gall

      Did it say what height his is?

      The centre of gravity of a human is neutrally the navel. In guys it's slightly higher than ladies (more shoulder, less hip). If he was texting, he would have raised his arms. Each of these things raises his centre of gravity.

      He may also have been wearing a backpack. If it had a laptop in it, that's a lot of added mass to raise the centre of gravity.

      The grandmother says the rail was waist-high, so he was clearly a tall bloke.

      A safety railing only prevents accidental falls if it is higher than the centre of gravity. The population is getting taller, so maybe it is time to raise the limit to account for this.

      And as for tripping...

      Well most car parks have kerbs, right? Even if not a full pavement kerb, those little ones to stop the wheels getting too close to the walls So it's possible he tripped on a kerb or other obstacle *before* hitting the rail? The article doesn't go into detail.

      And, to be fair, it shouldn't HAVE to go into detail. What sort of person reads a news story about an accident and starts publically slagging off the person without full possession of the facts?

      What sort of person?

      I would tell you, but I think Sarah would be obliged to censor it.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        there goes the point....

        his centre of gravity is irrelevent. there are a million other non hazards this dick could have killed himself on, he wasnt looking where he was going.

        cause of death:- stupidity

    4. Charles Manning

      Barriers are designed for kids

      The design of barriers assumes that adults are capable of taking responsibility for themselves.

      Being over 1.95m (6ft 5) and around 130kg (240+lb) , with a good 70% of that above 1m, I can understand that it would be easy to walk into a 1m barrier and topple over the top.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Death by iPod?

    Death by iPod?? More like Darwinism in full effect.

    The new iPod Gene Pool Cleanser.


    1. Ian McNee

      iEvolve (but not quite fast enough...)

      Yep, sad, but legislation is hardly going to stop this. If some people are too stupid to not be distracted by their shiny phone while doing something potentially hazardous the threat of prosecution is hardly going to improve their survival chances.

    2. Blake St. Claire

      the kernel is Darwin after all

      Or was, at some point.

      But I think iBleach is a better name.

      Pour a little iBleach in the gene pool.

    3. Ammaross Danan

      App For That?

      Perhaps someone should write an app that monitors the rear camera and alerts you to any hazards while you're fondling the slab? Oh wait...that would require allowing downloadable apps to actually multitask....

      ""Death by iPod" epidemic." - Evidence that technology is helping cull the gene pool.

      /mines the (only?) one without the iKiller in the pocket

      1. Rob Beard
        Thumb Up

        There is one, at least on the Galaxy S

        I've got such an app on my Galaxy S, allows me to see what's coming when I'm texting and walking, but then again, I don't tend to text and walk that often. Came pre-installed on the phone as part of the Samsung suite of applications (although no doubt something similar is available for other Android phones).


  4. Anonymous Coward

    Someone commented the other day

    on here I think that said things come in threes after that boy fell on the track...and here's the third one right on schedule. (The woman in the mall fountain being the first)

    1. Anonymous John


      That was me.

  5. Marky W


    Why can't people be responsible for what they do? They'll be calling for the mandatory lowering of cliffs next.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      That's why

      That's why.

      You cannot expect people to be responsible when you prohibit kids to become responsible by law and punish every parent that tries to instill even the most elementary sense of danger and responsibility in them.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


        from the bbc link..

        "The law on this is vague but the police can - and do - use their discretion in judging these cases. "

        I thought it was the Judges that judged, not the Ge^H^HPolice?

        If the kid left in charge was 14 and deemed too young, can anyone tell me if the couple of 11 year olds who recently had a kid now have a criminal record? (Apart from making the front page of The Sun)

  6. Brett


    Natural selection prevails.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1 metre high barrier

    Seems a bit low to me in my experience of British multi-storey car parks.

    Though I note the Working at Height Regulations specifiy a minimum of 0.95 m so it could just be my perception..

  8. Oli 1

    Sad but come on...

    Was his grandmother out on the piss with him then? How else does she know he had been drinking but wasnt drunk?

    If you've been out drinking and you fall over anything... a coffee table, a curb, a fellow reveller in the gutter, then i'd go out on a limb and say your pissed!

    For balance though, lets say he wasnt pissed.

    Maybe she could blame the girls he helped back to their car. If it werent for them he wouldnt have been there.

    If you cant manage the whole "look where your walking" then you should you be outside in the real world without someone holding your hand!

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Is that applicable?

      The Working at Height regulations surely apply to trained staff -- in areas frequented by members of the public you can't assume the same degree of awareness and/or responsibility.

      And besides, adhering to government minimum guidelines doesn't idemnify you against civil action -- a court can still rule something as inadequate or inherently unsafe.

    2. Lottie


      using my brother as a comparison (not very scientific, but there you go), if he'd been out for a family meal, he may have had one pint before heading home. ie drinking but not drunk. At family meals, there are grandparents.

      It may have been the case with this guy, who knows? Could the lasses he walked to their cars have been female relatives?

      But yes, I forget, we should jump in with anger and indignity and call everything into question.

  9. Duncan Hothersall

    I believe this is what they call

    an accident. Regrettable, tragic for those involved, but not indicative of any need to further regulate, control or amend. As long as there are tall buildings, people will accidentally fall off them. It's sad, but it's not possible or sensible to try to legislate against it.

  10. Greg J Preece

    @Darwin posters

    Granted, the family trying to push an accident caused (it seems) by inattention or inebriation onto the place where it happened is the kind of idiocy you would expect from grieving relatives, and the reason policy should never be formed on the opinion of the deceased's mother (or in this case, grandmother).

    And, granted, falling off something, whilst very easy, is not the most macho way to die - that position is obviously reserved for suffering a heartattack machine-gunning zombies to death while a gaggle of sexually curious schoolgirls suck you dry.

    All that said, are you aware that as a result of this incident someone is dead? Not a Neo Nazi, a Tory MP, or some other group everyone despises, like smug Opera users, just some dude like you and me.

    Well not like me, obviously. I'm some kind of mutant, it seems.

  11. Framitz

    1 meter

    a 1 meter high railing does seem dangerously LOW.

    BUT texting and not watching where he was going was the cause of the 'accident'.

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge


      I would hope that if I did something similar that led to my demise people would say 'Tragic - but a twat'. I would consider it one of those unfortunate but comedic incidents.

      Yes, it's a pain for the rellies and others but if they've ever laughed at anything on You've Been Framed or shite sitcoms then maybe they would also be able to recognise a similarity.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Sorry I down voted you - meant to do the one above :P

    2. Anonymous Coward


      "All that said, are you aware that as a result of this incident someone is dead? Not a Neo Nazi, a Tory MP, or some other group everyone despises, like smug Opera users, just some dude like you and me."

      What makes you draw this conclusion? He might have been a smug neo nazi MP using Opera for all we know. But according to your statement, that makes it ok if he dies stupidly (I'm not sure I quite understoo your morale). And if he isn't, well he might have been involved in the processing of the Foster urine Australians flood our beer market with (which surely is on par with the smug neo nazi MP Opera user).

      Every high place should be fitted with low rails for short people, high rails for tall people, and to be safe, middle rails for average people. They shall also be padded. and the floor as well. Either that, or have someone not totally stupid following each stupid person, not sure what's the cheapest option. But something needs to be done, because 1 (one) person died (I don't think the media would have skipped the opportunity of reporting if the same car park needed to have a pile of bodies removed from the bottom on a daily basis).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      OK ...

      So you think that it's fine if people die if they happen to have a different political view to you? Who's the neo-nazi here? I hope you were joking.

    4. PsychicMonkey


      Getting caught in the gears of a combine, thats a way to die. having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that's the way I wanna go!

    5. DrXym Silver badge

      Machine-gunning zombies to death

      You can't kill what's already dead. And zombie experts could tell you that hitting a zombie's body mass is not going to put one down for long. You need controlled bursts of accurate fire not a machine gun. And while dying of a heartattack in face of the onslaught might be macho, it might not seem so much directly afterwards when your buddies are faced with your reanimated corpse. Better to lead them off a cliff or something.

  12. Alistair MacRae

    Avoiding tripping over railings

    Why is there no app for that?

  13. Cameron Colley

    That does sound too low.

    OK, so in this case the guy was texting, but a waist-heigh barrier is far too low.

    I know I often find myself worried by low barriers, just around my centre of gravity or lower, whilst in busy precincts and I'm by no means a tall man.

  14. Doug Glass

    If you're going to be dumb ...

    ... you'd better be tough. Tragic for sure, but when it becomes more important to play with the latest toy than pay attention to what you're doing these events will continue to happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      There is!

    2. Knochen Brittle

      Mandatory Minimum Warning

      Pass a law so's all mofones must run an accelerometer-trigged App which on the way down plays a ringtone of Stephen Hawking's going "Watch.Out.You.Are.Falling"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: accelerometer

        I think you'll find that the accelerometer would be falling at the same rate as the phone, so wouldn't notice anything amiss. Stopping at the bottom, on the other hand ...

    3. Ammaross Danan


      Because iOS won't let user Apps multitask. Therefore, you can't download an app that can monitor your camera while you are texting. Only Apple Apps can multitask, so you'll have to wait until Steve stops saying "you're using it wrong." (of course, he'd be right in this instance, for once).

  15. Stevie Silver badge


    I predict legislation to mandate built-in radar in cellphones to warn of the proximity to cars, electrical lines, dangerous wildlife, trains (very common texter-culler here in NY) and vast open swaths of air while texting.

    1. Andy Barker

      Augmented reality?

      Based on ability to spell, it could assume you are drunk or stupid... either way it could turn on the camera and show you what is in front of you as a background to the texting app?

      I think it should be call iSee.

  16. Tom Wood

    Low barriers...

    ...scare me too. Sure, he should have been looking where he was going, but can you confidently say that 100% of the time you're 100% aware of what's in front of you?

    I'm 6'4" (1.93m) tall, and I've often found walls, railings etc protecting significant drops are lower than arse height, i.e. lower than my centre of gravity. I can think of several situations where I could end up falling over them through little fault of my own (jumping back out of the way of a vehicle, jumping out of the way of idiots larking around, being pushed backwards by someone trying to mug me, etc).

    1m is NOT high enough for a safety railing.


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