Community Rallies Around Wheelchair-Bound Sisters

KAIMUKI (KHNL) -- The Kaimuki Business and Professional Association, the East Honolulu Rotary Club and Liliuokalani Elementary are among those throwing their support behind two wheelchair-bound sisters. Tuesday, we brought you the story of how their father was forced to tear down a wooden ramp at their Kaimuki home.

When we visited the Jahier home Tuesday, we found 12-year-old Etalynia trembling with fear as she prepared to use a temporary, flimsy wheelchair ramp.

"This is absolutely unsafe," Robert Jahier, father, said.

Etalynia and her sister, 18-year-old Renisha, have multiple impairments due to a genetic disorder. Their father built a solid, wooden walkway to help them get in and out of their home.

But he says the city forced him to tear it down because, although it was on his own property, it didn't meet the 10-foot setback requirement.

"I was just appalled, you know, just totally appalled," Lori Yamada, Liliuokalani Elementary, said.

After seeing the story, community members are rallying around the sisters.

"When something like this happens, hits the news, we're like we have to do something," Yamada said.

"There's someone in our own backyard that needs help," Naomi Masuno, Kaimuki Business and Professional Association, said. "So whatever the, whatever we can do within the rules of the city and within our power, we'd like to help this family."

The city is now encouraging the family to apply for an exception.

"A variance, by its very nature, is something that varies from the rules that would apply normally," Bill Brennan, city spokesperson, said. "And in this case, it seems they may well have a good case for a variance."

"It's very sad that this had to happen," Masuno said.

The city spokesperson says the family may be able to avoid the fines because it took down the walkway, and simply pay the variance fee.

The Jahiers say they're touched by the outpouring of support.