Ashli Alcala-Romero, 2 1/2, gave the shaka sign yesterday as her parents talked about her recovery after falling through a loose railing from the fourth floor in February.

Baby recovers
quickly from
injuries from fall

The girl shows few ill effects
after tumbling 4 stories
from a Nuuanu building


Thursday, April 14, 2005

» Robyn Romero, mother of 2 1/2-year-old Ashli Alcala-Romero, lives two blocks from the Nuuanu apartment building where her daughter fell four floors in February. Alcala-Romero's former baby sitter lives at the building where she fell. A story on Page A1 yesterday implied that Romero was living in the building when Ashli fell.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at corrections@starbulletin.com.

Doctors predicted a hospital stay of three to six months for little Ashli Alcala-Romero, who fell four stories from a Nuuanu apartment building onto concrete in February.

To the surprise and delight of her parents, the 2 1/2-year-old girl left the Queen's Medical Center after five days.

"She's back to normal, doing the same thing she was doing before the accident," said her father, John Alcala, who added that doctors could not explain how she survived the fall.

"It's like one of those amazing stories on TV," he said yesterday at a press conference at the downtown office of the family's attorney, William Copulos.

Ashli energetically romped around a small conference room, crawled under and around a table flashing a big smile as her parents talked about her amazing recovery.

"She is doing really good," her mother, Robyn Romero, said.

Ashli Alcala-Romero, 2 1/2, who fell from the fourth floor of a Nuuanu apartment building in February, was well and full of energy yesterday as her parents, Robyn Romero and John Alcala, talked in their attorney's office.

On Feb. 20, Ashli fell 40 feet and landed on a concrete walkway after one of the aluminum railing bars gave way on the fourth floor of the building at 66 Kauila St. She was taken to the Queen's Medical Center after she suffered lacerations to her kidneys and spleen.

Doctors also drained accumulated fluid from her lungs after she suffered internal bruises. Alcala said his daughter also had bruises to her left arm, hip and thigh and a bump behind her left ear from the fall.

Her lacerations and bruises have since healed. She regularly sees a doctor who monitors her for any side effects of the internal injuries she suffered in the fall.

"By all accounts, she's doing very well. We do have concerns about the possibility of an injury that hasn't manifested itself yet," Copulos said.

"As Ashli continues to develop, then we'll have a better indication whether there is any long-term problems to be concerned about," he added. "We're not going to be able to determine that for years."

Copulos consulted with a life-care planner that specializes in pediatric brain injuries who recommended Alcala-Romero undergo neurological testing.

Romero also plans to take her daughter to see a psychiatrist because she recently experienced difficulty sleeping.

"She would get up in the middle of the night and start crying. Sometimes she would scream," she said.

Ashli is now attending preschool at the Little Friends Learning Center in Nuuanu.

The accident site is shown after the toddler's fall.

Her mother thanked the doctors and nurses at the Queen's Medical Center and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children for tending to her daughter as well as her co-workers for their support.

But she remains upset about the fall.

"This should've never happened to begin with," she said noting that building management should have been aware of the defective bar.

"I can't put words together as far as my whole feeling to it. Fortunately, she survived everything and of course we're working on her to get fully recovered," Romero said.

Romero, who now lives two blocks away from the apartment building where her daughter fell, said she relives that day each time she passes the area. "Just seeing the outskirts of that whole vicinity just really angers me because it brings me back freshly to the 20th of February," she said.

Copulos said he talked to one tenant at the building who said the railing bar was broken for about a month before the girl fell.

"Nobody brought it to our attention that the railing was broken," said attorney Dean Ochiai, who is representing the owners of the building.

Repairs have yet to be done on the defective bar. The area of defective bar has been covered with a tarp. Ochiai said he hired an accident reconstruction expert from California and a construction expert from Honolulu, who both inspected the defective bar.

An investigation is ongoing to determine what happened, he said.

"We want to make sure that an accident never happens," said Ochiai.

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