Family members of a 66-year-old man who was found unconscious in an MTR toilet and later died have raised questioned over the transit firm’s procedures and requested a full investigation.

The man was found unconscious in an accessible toilet in Hung Hom station last Wednesday, and was pronounced dead at Queen Elizabeth Hospital that night.

Hung Hom man presser
Family members of the 66-year-old man found unconscious in a toilet at Hung Hom MTR station holding a press conference on July 24, 2022. Photo: Democratic Party.

He was discovered by a cleaner over four hours after his family members called the MTR Corporation (MTRC) to help look for him, despite other MTR staff members telling the family that they had already searched all the toilets in the station.

At a press conference held on Sunday, the man’s sons raised questions including how many staff members were deployed to look for their father, and whether the MTRC had checked CCTV footage.

“Does the MTR have any prescribed procedures for looking for missing persons? And did the station staff members follow the procedure? Did the staff member actually look into the accessible toilet that my father was found in? If so, when no one answered the door, why did the staff member think that it was not suspicious?” one of the man’s sons said on Sunday.

The man did not have any chronic illness and was healthy, the family said. They were also told by a doctor at the hospital that the man might have been saved if he was found and sent to the hospital earlier.

The MTRC vowed an internal investigation, when approached by HKFP: “We take the case seriously and will maintain communication with the family of the concerned male passenger to give an early account of the case, as well as providing appropriate assistance to the family.”

Hung Hom station
A CCTV camera near the toilet at Hung Hom station where the 66-year-old man was found. Photo: Democratic Party.

It stopped short of directly apologising over the incident, but said it “understands and apologises for the queries aroused from the case,” including how it handled the matter and communication issues. The firm will cooperate with police, share CCTV footage, and install motion detectors in its 90 accessible toilets around the network, it added.

Timeline of events

According to the man’s family, the man and his wife were planning to travel to Long Ping from Ma On Shan via Tuen Ma Line to visit a friend.

  • The man disembarked at Hung Hom station at 5 p.m. to use the washroom, and told his wife – who had surgery and has difficulty walking – to wait at Long Ping station as she had a seat at the time.
  • At 5.25 p.m., the wife messaged the man to say that she had reached Long Ping station, and called her son at 5.40 p.m. after the man did not respond to her message.
  • The family called the police eight minutes later, and were told by a police officer who answered the call that there was not enough information, and that the man was not a high-risk missing person.
  • At 5.59 p.m., the family called the MTRC and gave them a description of the man’s appearance, and told the staff member that he went to the toilet. Around 20 minutes later, the family called the transit firm again to ask about their progress, and was told that staff members had looked in all toilets at the station.
  • Another family member called the MTR again at 6.36 p.m., and was told again that all washrooms inside the station were searched. By 7.00 p.m., the 66-year-old’s family had reached Hung Hom station and were advised by a staff member to spread their search to a larger area, after the family tried to look for the man in some of toilets in the station.
  • Around an hour later, the MTRC called the family to ask about the man’s age and height, and informed them that they will send the information to other stations.
  • By around 10 p.m. the family called Hung Hom police station for help again. Thirty minutes later, a cleaner found the man unconscious in the toilet. The family was informed by Queen Elizabeth Hospital at around 11 p.m., and the man passed away at 11.42 p.m.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.