After walkway wall gives way, questions raised over building's safety

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Kalihi walk-up where a second-floor lanai wall gave way earlier this week, injuring two, was inspected by the city last year.

But officials only ordered two small repairs, Hawaii News Now has learned.

Meanwhile, residents of the building say they're afraid the building remains dangerous.

Edward Samuo, 25, says he was rough-housing with his friend on the second floor of the four-story apartment building Monday when a concrete wall gave way. Samuo fell to the ground and concrete debris rained on top of him.

"The bricks covered him, was on top of him, the whole body," said his sister, Jazzy Benito.

Samuo and his friend fell about 12 feet. While his friend was only slightly injured, Samuo was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

"His hand, his legs, his head, his eye, and his mouth inside … his head is like cut open," Benito said.

There is yellow police tape around the gap in the second-floor lanai and a wooden board is blocking the area.

Last August, the city issued a violation notice to the building's owners, saying a third floor unit had a rotting doorframe and a patio had concrete spalling.

The city says corrections were made and the owner was not fined. The owner was reminded in writing to "maintain the structure in a safe condition at all times." The violation notice doesn't mention other problems.

"If I was the building inspector for the city, I would have written up additional comments to my report, in addition to the specific item that he looked at. But I can't speak for the city building department," said building expert and construction engineer Lance Luke.

Luke said it doesn't look like the building was constructed properly or follows today's standards.

He doesn't believe it's safe for people to be there now.

"It's up to every building owner to maintain their property. It's not up to the city and county building department to go and monitor and inspect every building, that's not their job," Luke said.

The city issued another violation notice after Monday's incident, saying the damaged areas and third- and fourth-floor railings also need repair.

Luke estimates the repair work will cost about $800,000.

The city said its crews have not inspected the entire building yet, but they are in the process of hiring seven more inspectors.

Hawaii News Now tried to contact the building's owners, but was given a number that was disconnected.

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