'A loud bang': Devastating cause of balcony fall revealed


A VICTORIAN man fell to his death from a 40th-storey Gold Coast hotel balcony after losing his footing trying to clean damage from a popped champagne cork.

The 36-year-old man was staying at the Hilton Surfers Paradise with family and friends when he tragically died from the plunge into the midst of a packed party strip about 11pm Friday.

It is understood the group were on holiday from Victoria.

The man had popped a bottle of champagne moments before his death and the cork had flown up and damaged the ceiling, the Bulletin can reveal.

Witnesses told police the man returned to the room to get a cloth to clean scuff marks from the roof before propping a chair up next to the balcony edge.
It is understood he slipped and fell over the railing of the balcony after standing on the chair in an attempt to reach the damage.

The Surfers Paradise Hilton Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
The Surfers Paradise Hilton Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

The 36-year-old fell from the 40th floor of the hotel and landed on the footpath at Orchid Ave in front of hundreds of horrified on lookers.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene, with police being forced to move partygoers away to secure the area.

The incident was initially categorised as a "mental health" incident by Queensland Ambulance Service, but further investigations by police revealed the death was a tragic accident.

A Queensland Police Service spokesman said a report was now being prepared for the Coroner around the circumstances of the man's death.

Investigators are still taking witnesses statements and obtaining CCTV, he said.

Some of the nearby nightclubs in Surfers Paradise closed for the night following the incident.

One witness who works in the area told the Bulletin of chaotic scenes following the tragic accident.

"We all heard a loud bang. People were crying and screaming … one person initially thought a kid had fallen over, so a lot of people were confused," she said.

"Police closed the road and taped up the street and were getting people to move along.
"They grabbed a blanket from the Hilton to cover the body up. It was really sad."

Other witnesses took to Facebook, saying their children and other families had witnessed the fall.

"This time kids in my daughter's circle of friends witnessed it and are obviously shaken," wrote one parent.

"But more so above all that, they are sickened to see many people filming (after the fall)."

Gold Coast residents on social media have reacted with sadness to the tragic accident.

Helen Duncan wrote on Facebook's Surfers Paradise community page: "Saw the police cars and had to walk the other way. Heartbreaking."

Temeeka Aroha wrote: "Oh my lord, what a horrendous thing to witness."

It's the second balcony death to take place at the hotel in just over a year, after 18-year-old Schoolie Charlie Scott fell in December 2019.

Mr Scott, of Montmorency in Melbourne, died when he fell from the Hilton Hotel tower in Surfers Paradise leaving a chilling Snapchat message simply saying: "Goodbye."

And it comes nearly 15 years after an Adelaide woman fell 36 floors to her death from the balcony of her Gold Coast apartment after standing on a chair with a mop trying to clean up water on a ledge.

The tragedy happened at the Aquarius building in Surfers Paradise, where Annie Rogers, 49, owned a holiday apartment with her long-term partner Martyn Ewer.

Originally published as Horror balcony fall a 'tragic' accident

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