An eight-year-old boy received quite a scare Monday after falling six floors down a trash chute in a Salt Lake condominium.
It happened shortly after 10 a.m. at Salt Lake Manor on Ala Ilima Street.
Before firefighters arrived, a resident had already acted quickly to rescue the eight-year-old.
Dan Kaetsu grabbed a flashlight and squeezed through the narrow door of the chute to look for the boy, who fell some 70 feet onto a pile of trash on the second floor.
“I could hear him screaming. We couldn’t see him where he was,” said Kaetsu. “I broke the glass for the fire hose and sent it down to see if he could reach it. He said he grabbed it, so we started to pull him out.”
Kaetsu also noted that the boy “was way, way at the bottom, but he did fine. We were pulling him up. He was using the wall to walk up the trash chute.”
KHON2 asked if the boy explained how he got into the trash chute. “(The family) didn’t say,” Kaetsu said. “She said he was taking out the trash and he fell in.”
The boy, a student on break from Pearl Harbor Elementary School, was rushed to Queen’s Medical Center with numerous cuts. His parents told KHON2 he is okay.
During a building inspection last month, the Honolulu Fire Department uncovered seven fire code violations, which included the door of the 8th floor trash chute.
In a statement to KHON2, the fire department said “the chute door failed to close and latch on its own as designed and required by code.” The feature ensures trash fires don’t spread to the rest of the building.
Officials cannot say if the door in violation was the cause of the accident and calls to the Salt Lake Manor for comment were not returned.
An organization that represents building owners and managers has advice for those who live in, and manage, high-rise buildings.
“We would recommend that the building managers work with their boards of directors, their licensed architect and contractor to make sure their chutes meet current codes and requirements,” said Steven Sullivan, president of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Hawaii.
A spokesperson for the Keiki Injury Prevention Coalition told KHON2 that she will advise her organization to look into ways to prevent this kind of accident from occurring in the future.
“I think it’s something we should definitely look at,” said Karen Tessier, who is also a pediatric nurse and teaches at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “We’re looking at falls. Really, we’ve been looking at falls out of windows, so this is a new thing, but yes, we should really look into it.”
A fire department spokesman says inspectors will be going back to Salt Lake Manor to make sure that management has corrected all violations, including the trash chute door.
This is not the first time a child has fallen down a trash chute.
In June 2013, an 8-year-old boy fell 12 stories down a chute at The Towers of Kuhio Park.
Police say, the boy was told to take out the trash but didn’t return.
He was later found in the trash bin and was seriously injured.