Families critical
of Navy about
catchment basin

Some families in the Pearl City Peninsula Naval Housing neighborhood where 5-year-old Charlotte Schaefers drowned Saturday are criticizing the U.S. Navy for not fencing off a rain catchment basin.


Soaking rains flooded the catch basin starting on Friday, turning it into a deep, muddy lake where Charlotte drowned.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis said the Navy is investigating the incident and the structure of the rainwater basin to determine if there are "any safety issues" or "anything wrong from an engineering standpoint." He said they will try to determine if the flooding could be avoided.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon at the site of the child's death, Davis said, "We are very saddened by this tragedy and extend our deepest sympathies to the family."

Davis said he was aware that some complaints had been made about the basin and that the investigation will also look into the nature of those inquiries.

He said the Navy also will look at whether the basin and similar catchment systems at other military bases should be fenced permanently.

Workers installed a temporary fence of orange plastic mesh around the basin Sunday and pumped out much of the water.

Karen Eggers, whose house stands close to the basin, said yesterday she first asked the Navy to do something about the water and improving safety when she moved to the neighborhood in September 2002. A few months later, after a fence was built along a nearby roadway, she said she asked for a fence around the pool.

"Each time, they just said they were taking it under consideration."

Another neighbor, Petty Officer 1st Class Glenn Morrill, said, "The primary complaint I've heard people make is about the lack of drainage in the area."

Several neighbors said that in heavy rains the grassy area floods around the basin, adjoining yards and the street, Waianiani Court.

Morrill said "there have also been concerns about children falling in when the basin was dry and hurting themselves or breaking an arm on the concrete."


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