HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii News Now has learned the trash chute where a Kalihi boy fell 12 stories Wednesday appears to be in violation of the city code. The city signed off on the building's safety inspection last month, only because it was told all the chute doors would be locked until contractors could bring them up to code.
City officials say all trash chute doors are supposed to be self-closing with a latch. Pictures provided to Hawaii News Now by a resident living in Tower A of the Towers at Kuhio Park, where the boy tumbled at least 120 feet down a trash chute Wednesday night, indicate the door can remain open on its own, which violates city code.
According to Honolulu Fire Department officials, in September 2012, fire code violations were issued at Tower A because the trash chute doors did not meet regulations.
A month later in October, a letter was sent by the building contractor to H.F.D. indicating they intended to repair or replace the doors on floors 2 through 15 of Tower A, but "we are investigating the best replacement product to meet all of the code requirements and the 'tough' KPT environment".
In January and May of this year, H.F.D. did two other inspections on the property, but didn't find any violations because they were told the trash chute was out of service during on-going renovations and that all trash chute doors were secured close.
H.F.D. says they were also told they would receive notice from management when heavier-duty doors were installed and fire officials would go back for a final inspection.
Honolulu Fire officials say they received a second letter from the building contractor in February 2013, indicating the trash chutes for Tower A of Kuhio Park Terrace, as it was formerly called, were currently out of service and that all trash chute doors were secured in closed position, preventing any use. Officials say the correspondence noted building management was working with the contractor to research and implement a "penal/public housing quality replacement door" as a solution.
On June 13, a renovation and re-naming ceremony was held at the Towers at Kuhio Park at Tower A with residents present—95% of whom never moved out during construction, according to a spokesperson with the company that owns and manages the building.
Two days ago, on June 19, a boy was seriously injured and rushed to the hospital after falling 12 stories down the trash chute at Tower A.
As of June 21, H.F.D. files indicate they still have not received notice from the contractor that new trash chute doors were installed and fire officials say they're awaiting final inspection.
According to Laura Zaner, the spokesperson for Michaels Development Company, which owns and manages the Towers at Kuhio Park, the trash chutes have malfunctioned in the past and the contractor has been working on repairs. She says the trash chute door the little boy fell through was later found closed, but the latch was broken.