Add To Favorites

EDITORIAL: Editorial: Proposed legislation helps family make a difference after tragedy

Marin Independent Journal - 2/21/2024

Feb. 21—The accidental death of a young Marin boy was not as much of a fluke as first believed.

The 7-year-old, Alex Quanbeck, died in 2019 after a 300-pound schoolyard gate on rollers fell on him.

In his honor, his parents formed a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving school safety through education and advocacy. What they learned, says Alex's father, Eric Quanbeck, is that there have been numerous child fatalities caused by gates that could have been better secured with safety devices.

Marin's assemblyman, Damon Connolly, authored a bill requiring gates larger than 48 inches wide and 84 inches high to meet specified industry standards. It would require that the owner of a regulated gate have it inspected on or before July 1, 2025, and that it be re-inspected at least once every five years.

In addition, the bill sets safety standards that the gate must not move under its own weight and have a positive stop, a component that impedes its motion, and must be designed so it doesn't fall more than 45 degrees, rather than falling to the ground, possibly on top of a child.

The American Fence Association, the fence industry's largest membership, helped write the legislation.

"The tragedy of Alex Quanbeck's death was both heartbreaking and preventable, and his story has touched our community," said Connolly, a Democrat from San Rafael. "Strengthening gate safety measures addresses preventable tragedies by ensuring that if a gate's structure fails, there will be additional safety measures protecting children from being crushed."

The 2019 tragic accident occurred during recess at Alex's school. He was playing with his friends when he went to retrieve a ball and tried to close the gate to stop the ball from rolling into an alley. But the gate's wheels broke away from the rails and fell on him.

Alex's parents, Dayne and Eric Quanbeck, formed The Hummingbird Alliance in his honor. They have lobbied Marin municipalities to require greater gate-safety rules in their building codes. The county, San Rafael, San Anselmo, Larkspur, Fairfax, Belvedere and Tiburon have adopted those requirements.

The Quanbecks have also worked with the American Fence Association to promote greater awareness about safety concerns. They aren't waiting for passage of a state law or federal action.

They approached Connolly about state action. Passage of Connolly's bill — Alex's Law — would be a strong step in the right direction. It would help save the lives of other children.

The gate that killed Alex had been installed without a permit and was poorly designed and not well maintained, Connolly said in his press release.

The common-sense legislation — Assembly Bill 2149 — would help close those safety gaps to prevent other deadly accidents.

The strong support of the fencing industry will be important as the bill advances.

So will the Quanbeck's heartfelt commitment to honor their son and promote safety and prevent more tragedies.

Dr. Matt Willis, the county's public health officer, is also supporting the bill and said it best: "It's inspiring to see parents like Alex's, who have the courage to step forward to make our schools safer for everyone."


(c)2024 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)

Visit The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.