City warns landlords to secure rooftops

By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / April 19, 2011

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City officials warned landlords yesterday to secure the rooftops of their buildings following an Emerson College student’s fatal fall from a Roxbury rooftop Sunday morning.

The student, Justin Amorratanasuchad, 21, apparently stepped backward, lost his balance, and fell four stories while working on a film project, officials said. He was a film production assistant from Seattle.

Police found his body about 10:45 a.m. Sunday in the rear of the building at 610 Columbus Ave., adjacent to the Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen at the intersection with Northampton Street. He did not live at that apartment.

City officials said yesterday that the fall seemed to be a tragic accident, but that inspectors were investigating the property yesterday. It appeared that the entryway to the roof had been locked, but that the lock had been tampered with, said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

Officials said yesterday that the tragedy should serve as a reminder to property owners to safeguard roof access.

“Let’s take this opportunity to remind landlords to secure their rooftops to prevent tragedies like this,’’ said Joyce. She said the mayor expressed his condolences to Amorratanasuchad’s family.

The incident is under investigation, said Elaine Driscoll, a Boston police spokeswoman.

“At this point, according to witness statements, it would appear the victim, while filming, may have stepped back and lost his balance, leading to the fall,’’ she said.

District detectives are working closely with the city’s Inspectional Services Department on the investigation, Driscoll said.

Lisa Timberlake, a spokeswoman for the Inspectional Services Department, said the property managers have since placed metal plates with dead bolts on the door to secure it and plan to make other improvements.

However, she said, her office continues to look at any potential violations. The property managers may be cited for unsafe maintenance in failing to fix broken locks beforehand, she said.

A representative of the property owner, CSOH Properties LLC of Boston, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Amorratanasuchad, a junior, has been described by family and friends as a popular film student with a passion for his craft.

“It’s just a tough loss, a tragedy, not something you can put into words,’’ Jesse Amorratanasuchad, Justin’s older brother, told Seattle‘s KING-TV 5.

College officials said yesterday that they are working with Amorratanasuchad’s family to organize a memorial. His funeral will be in Seattle.

Amorratanasuchad’s death was the latest in series of tragic roof falls in Boston.

In November, Shawn Dow, 21, of Peabody, a photography major at the Art Institute of Boston, died after he fell off the roof of a building in Allston.

In September, 2006, Brian Evans, 21, a Northeastern University student, died after a fall from the roof of his Roxbury apartment building.

In July, 2006, David Magoon, 24, a Harvard Medical School student, plunged to his death on a fire escape leading to the roof of his Back Bay apartment.

Milton Valencia can be reached at