Ala Moana Center to thoroughly inspect all railings in wake of deadly fall


Ala Moana Center is taking a closer look at all its railings in the wake of a deadly fall.

The Honolulu medical examiner tells us Nicholas Freitas, 21, of Honolulu died from “multiple blunt force injuries.”

Police say he and another man were leaning on a metal railing Sunday night when it “gave way.”

On Monday, we reached out to Ala Moana Center with safety questions about its railings.

A new statement from Francis Cofran, Ala Moana Center general manager, released Tuesday said:

The safety and welfare of our customers and employees is a matter that we take very seriously and always address as a priority. Following the incident on Oct. 9, Ala Moana Center staff immediately secured the area and completed an initial mall-wide inspection of all railings.

Further to this, we are engaging Desman Design Management, a structural engineering firm, to provide an assessment of all railings on property. Based on the findings, we will make any necessary improvements to ensure a safe environment for everyone that visits Ala Moana Center.

We are cooperating with the Honolulu Police Department and the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting as each continues its respective investigation into the cause of this incident.

Again, our hearts go out to the families and all those affected by this tragic event.

In light of the railing concerns at Ala Moana, we spoke with building inspector and construction engineer Lance Luke, who says it’s a common problem across Oahu.

“I’m still surprised,” he told KHON2. “In some cases, when I do my inspection, it seems like I’m looking at a building in a third-world country. It’s really pathetic that some of these owners don’t maintain their buildings properly.”

We tagged along with Luke as he went across Oahu checking out properties. He showed us an example of a building he calls an “accident waiting to happen.”

“If you see rust stains dripping down somewhere, already the moisture penetrated through the paint. The paint’s not healthy. It’s a problem,” he said.

Luke says though this is paradise, there’s a price to pay.

“Hawaii is like one of the most corrosive climates for metal,” he explained. “You see rusting on all kinds of rusting. It doesn’t last as long as other parts of the country or even the world.”

Luke says rusted railings are common on buildings with lanais or walkway railings, and unfortunately, fixing them is not a huge priority.

“Normally, it’s a low priority. People think railings are going to last a long time. But if it looks good from the top, it may not look good from the bottom. Careful inspection would be from the base,” he said.

What are signs people should look for to ensure their railing is safe? Luke says beware of paint jobs that hide rust, and pull out tools instead.

“Go around with a hammer and tap, with a metal-type railing, tap on the railing. Get a screwdriver and scrape the paint and see if there’s corrosion,” he advised.

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