Hotel's railings are legal
The site of a fatal fall is deemed compliant with city standards
The railings of the Waikiki hotel balcony from which a 3-year-old New York boy fell eight stories and died Sunday conform to city building standards, a city official says.
The lanai railings at the Alii Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village are 5 inches apart, which met the building code when the tower was renovated in 1987, said Henry Eng, director of the city Department of Planning and Permitting. The current standard, revised in 1997, requires a spacing of four inches.
The Alii Tower was built in the 1950s, when the standard was a maximum 9 inches, Eng said yesterday.
"Typically, when new standards are established, they're applied for future buildings," Eng said. Standards change over time, but building owners are not required to make changes retroactively, he said.
David Shpigler said his son, Sammy, was playing with his 4-year-old sister and 6-year-old brother when he "slipped through the railing and fell to his death."
Witnesses told police that the children were playing unattended on the lanai.
The Medical Examiner's Office declared the boy's death as accidental. He died from multiple injuries caused by the fall, officials said yesterday.
Shpigler said Monday that he and his wife, Lauren, are angry the Hilton's general manager did not assure them that the hotel would do something about the railings.
Hotel officials declined to comment on Shpigler's complaints.
Eng said, "it would be a horrendous problem to try to change things retroactively," citing the cost factor to building owners and the city's lack of manpower to ensure compliance to new standards.
Whenever someone applies for a building permit to renovate a building or a portion thereof, the city Department of Planning and Permitting requires compliance with current standards.