Monday, November 22, 2004

Toddler’s lesson ends
in grief

A second high-rise death underscores
the dangers of lanais

The mother of a 3-year-old boy who died in a fatal high-rise fall in Moiliili cried in anguish yesterday as she sat in the parking garage where her son was found.

Friends and neighbors consoled the boy's mother and father, Edward Reiser, who discovered their son on the second level of the open-air parking garage.

The toddler, identified by friends and neighbors as Eddie Reiser III, was pronounced dead at Queen's Medical Center Saturday after he fell eight floors from his balcony.

Police said the fall appeared to be accidental. The toddler was the couple's only child.

This is the second fatal high-rise fall involving a toddler on Oahu within the last four months.

On Aug. 9, 2-year-old Exodus Berger fell from the 14th floor of a University Avenue apartment building. Police said he apparently fell while climbing on a lanai railing of the Ala Wai Plaza at 500 University Ave. Police said he was found lifeless by his nanny.

Reiser, a math professor and tutor, said he locked his son in the apartment of the "C" building of Hono Hale Towers at 2648 Kuilei St. to discipline him while he stood outside the front door.

Reiser said he went to check on the boy a few minutes later after he did not hear him crying, and discovered the boy on the second level of the parking garage. Neighbors said the boy's mother was at work when the fall occurred.

Friends and neighbors described Eddie Reiser III as an active boy who enjoyed swimming at the neighborhood pool. He would go swimming twice a day with his father, said neighbor Richard Chase.

Chase said Reiser's father is an "extremely attentive" parent, and he was surprised to hear about the fall. "Everybody was amazed that this happened to him," Chase said.

Fatal high-rise falls are uncommon in Hawaii, said Eric Tash, manager of the state Department of Health's Injury Prevention and Control Program.

But Tash said it is important for parents to safeguard their high-rise lanais and windows. He said lanai doors should be kept locked, preferably with childproof locks. Locks should be placed high on the doors so they are not accessible to children.

Furniture, ladders or other items that children can stack or climb should also be cleared away from the balcony.

"Because children are inquisitive, they'll try to play on things. They're pretty creative," he said.

Tash also said children should always be under adult supervision while they are on the lanai.

He reminded parents to make sure their windows are locked and to have bars or childproof screens.



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