Mary Lovelace, 55, shocked shoppers and storeowners by jumping to her death from the mall's fourth-story pedestrian walkway on a busy weekday afternoon on April 8.
Lovelace climbed over the waist-high glass barrier surrounding the mall's open atrium, held on for a brief moment, let go, and plunged to her death. She landed on teenager Derrik Munoz, who was sitting on a massage chair on the mall's ground floor.
Our investigation of the suicide brought to light what many shoppers and storeowners have been saying for years: an incident like this was waiting to happen.
"As the mall becomes more and more crowded, the low rails make it easy for an accident or something like this to happen," said a man who works at a kiosk on the 4th floor. "It's dangerous. Even to go down the escalators, it seems so unprotected."
Many shoppers and employees at the mall echoed his sentiments, claiming they were very aware even before the suicide that this could easily happen. It did not surprise us that officials at the mall did not want to talk to us about safety, but someone needs to address it.
The mall should do more to prevent incidents like this one from happening.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the regulating federal agency, guardrails are installed for the purpose of minimizing the possibility of an accidental fall from the walking surface to the lower level.
We see a distinct possibility of an accident or an incident because the rails don't do enough to protect those who might be hit by a falling person or object. The point is that Munoz, the teen who was hit by Lovelace, and other mall shoppers like him, need more protection.
In many municipalities guardrails must be at least 42" above the platform. But in facilities like the Queens Center Mall, whose interior spaces reach heights of 15 feet, there needs to be some better protection in the way of wires or mesh - at the very least.
Safety should be the first priority at the mall. Shoppers deserve no less.