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Railing collapse likely a bigger problem for hotel

By Diane Ako

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — We have a follow up on yesterday’s hotel-railing collapse from a fifth-floor hotel room at the Moana Surfrider. Amazingly, it did not fall on anyone, but debris hit a couple people nearby causing minor injuries, according to Emergency Medical Services and the Honolulu Fire Department.

An expert in building safety tells Island News this is probably just one symptom of a much larger problem for the hotel.

Lance Luke, owner of Construction Management Inspection, says, “I’m kind of used to seeing these kind of situations. In my opinion, it’s not an isolated situation with only that one [railing]. It’s probably a condition at all the other units in the hotel which should be investigated and checked.”

Luke says this probably started rusting five to eight years ago.

“I’m pretty sure the attachment of the metal anchors corroded and causes the wall to fall down,” he guesses, adding that it’s good policy for any building with railings to have them professionally checked on a regular basis.

Luke thinks this hotel now needs to test all the railings – an expensive endeavor. He estimates the cost to replace just one railing is $20,000 to $30,000.

“It’s not structurally sound and I’m pretty sure the other railings in that building have similar conditions,” he says.

The City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting on Wednesday says it’s working with Kyo-Ya Hotels & Resorts, and will send an inspector out to the Moana Surfrider.

On Wednesday, it said, “The maintenance of private high-rise buildings is the responsibility of the building’s owner or management firm. However, if we become aware that a building may be unsafe, we will send an inspector to investigate. If we determine a building is unsafe, the Building Code allows the DPP to take immediate action to protect the health and safety of the building’s residents.”

Kyo-Ya said after the incident on Tuesday, “We are looking into an incident that occurred involving a balcony in our tower wing. We take this matter very seriously. The safety and security of our guests and employees is our top priority.” It did not respond to a request for an update on Wednesday.

Luke says he never would have known by just looking at it – if the rail hadn’t fallen – that there was a structural issue. His advice to anyone standing by a railing is to be on the safe side and don’t lean on it.

In the meantime, this has become a story picked up by some media across the country including Forbes and TV stations in Alabama and Mississippi.

It’s a little scary for these visitors from Minnesota who we met on the beach near the scene. Cathy Arriola and Lisa Argir decided, after seeing this, to not lean on their hotel railing when they return to their rooms.

They have been keeping up with the local news on their vacation and after this, plus Tuesday’s barricade at Waikiki Sunset Hotel and last Tuesday’s acid injury, the women are a little concerned.

“You don’t want this becoming the norm. It may make people question if this is a place to go to that’s safe,” Argir cautions.

Arriola says if these three events happened before she booked the vacation here, “I’d have to think about” wanting to come to Hawaii.

Hawai’i Lodging & Tourism Association president and CEO Mufi Hannemann says, “The safety of our guests, local residents, and hotel associates is our visitor industry’s number one priority. We encourage and know that our HLTA hotel owners, operators, and managers are vigilant in implementing necessary protocols to address any potential incidents.

“Hawai’i has long held an exemplary reputation as a safe destination, and we want to maintain that. We are confident that our hotel members consistently prioritize the assessment of their structures’ safety.

“We feel fortunate that no injuries occurred during the recent incident, and we are aware that the hotel is promptly taking action to address the situation.”

Island News was not able to reach Hawaii Tourism Authority for comment on this on Wednesday.

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