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Chinese police detain woman who threw cob of corn off high-rise roof, hitting baby in the head

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 1/7/2022 Mandy Zuo
  • Police compared saliva from the corn with DNA taken from five households that bought corn that day
  • The baby was injured but is now in stable condition

Chinese police used DNA evidence to track down a woman who threw a corn cob from a tall building that hit a baby in the head amid an intensified crackdown on high-rise littering.

Police detained a 69-year-old woman, surnamed Zhu, from Jiaxing in Zhejiang province in eastern China, after running the corn through a DNA comparison with saliva samples. They then determined she threw the corn that injured the eight-month-old baby last week.

The corn hit the baby, whose grandmother had taken her on a walk below a 19-floor residential building, causing an injury and bleeding. The girl was sent to hospital and is in stable condition.

Zhu could face a possible fine or imprisonment, according to officer Wu Yefeng, who handled the case.

"At first, we visited all the residents of flats where the corn could possibly have fallen from, but no one admitted they did it," he said.

The piece of corn that fell on the baby's head. Photo: Sohu © Provided by South China Morning Post The piece of corn that fell on the baby's head. Photo: Sohu

Police identified five households that bought corn earlier that day by checking surveillance camera footage. They then performed DNA tests on those households and compared their saliva samples with residue on the cob of corn.

Zhu, who lives on the second floor, initially denied littering but confessed to police that she ate the corn while going to the rooftop to collect her drying clothes. She said she threw the cob off the roof to free her hands after she was done.

According to surveillance footage, the cob bounced off an air conditioner before hitting the baby carried by her grandma passing below.

Similar indiscriminate acts have repeatedly occurred across China as millions of rural residents who used to live in independent houses moved to high-rise buildings in urban areas amid decades-long urbanisation.

The country made it a crime last year. Depending on the consequences of the littering act, perpetrators could face a punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine.

There has been a "considerable drop" in injuries and deaths caused by high-rise littering since it was written into law last year, according to the annual report from the Supreme People's Court in March.

Police use DNA matching technology to find who threw the cob of corn. Photo: Sohu © Provided by South China Morning Post Police use DNA matching technology to find who threw the cob of corn. Photo: Sohu

The litter is usually household garbage, but there were cases involving kitchen knives and even television sets, according to media reports.

Just a month ago, a 67-year-old woman died after being hit by a pack of printer paper while walking below an office building near her home in Qingdao, Shandong province in east China, the Qilu Evening News reported on Wednesday.

An investigation found that a teenager threw it from the 27th floor of the building, where he had after-school courses. He was not criminally charged because the police ruled that he was not old enough to be held legally responsible, the report said.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (, the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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