Toddler takes 20-foot plunge from condominium; good Samaritans rush to help

Published On: Sep 05 2013 07:40:12 AM HST   Updated On: Sep 05 2013 10:02:18 AM HST

William Rodrigues-Kaiwa, of the Big Island, and Drew Tandal, of Makaha, have never crossed paths, but in the span of a few minutes Wednesday, both men were trading hugs as if longtime friends.

It was shortly after 12:30 p.m. when the pair heard screams coming from a third-floor window at Atkinson Plaza, a condominium located across the street from the Ala Moana Shopping Center.

Rodriques-Kaiwa quickly realized a small child had fallen from a third-floor window of the residential tower and landed on a ledge that's part of the building's entrance. The child was in a small lobby that leads from a parking garage when he fell.

"I was walking and I just heard somebody scream," said Rodrigues-Kaiwa. "Then I looked up and I seen this lady screaming like, 'Get down there!'  So, I came running across the street, I tried to climb up… but I kind of slipped."

As he attempted to climb to the top of the ledge a second time to reach the injured child, Rodrigues-Kaiwa was approached by Tandal, who asked what was happening.

"I was like, 'It's OK, it'll probably be a little easier for me,'" explained Tandal. "So, he helped me get up."

Once on the ledge, it was clear to Tandal the child had suffered serious injuries. As he began speaking to the child, Tandal was soon joined on the ledge by Rodrigues-Kaiwa and another unidentified man.

"I was hoping that he wasn't dead. It was just really scary," said Tandal. "When I saw he was breathing, I felt a little better."

"He was bleeding, but he was breathing and crying," added Rodrigues-Kaiwa, who was still shaken by the ordeal while speaking to KITV4.

All three good Samaritans stayed with the injured boy until firefighters and paramedics arrived moments later. The toddler was stabilized on a backboard before being lowered to the ground with the help of an aluminum ladder.

A woman who identified herself as the boy's aunt, but did not want to provide her name, said the child was visiting from Corona, Calif., and had arrived on Oahu Saturday. She said the toddler suffered a fractured skull, broken arm and damage to his spleen.

According to a police report, a caregiver lost sight of the toddler after he ran off. Moments later, the injured child was found on the ledge.

Although it may seem uncommon for a child to fall from a building, first responders say it happens much too often.

"You turn your back to them for one minute and a tragedy like this could happen," said Kelly Yamamoto, a district chief with the city's Emergency Medical Services. "So, the message that we want to get to the community is to be extra careful with children and height."

According to Hawaii Department of Health statistics, from 2005 to 2012 there have been 300 children under the age of 5 injured in Hawaii after falling from a building or other structure, such as a retaining wall. More specifically, 78 children have been injured during the same time span after falling directly from a building.

From 1991 to 2012, eight children under the age of 5 died from falls from buildings, but only two deaths occurred in the past 13 years.


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