HONOLULU (AP) – The students assigned to the University of Hawaii apartment where a man fell out of a window to his death while trying to stop another man from jumping off a 14th-floor ledge will have the option to get new housing arrangements.
The four students who share the 2-bedroom apartment have been notified about Sunday’s incident and have likely lived in the unit last school year, as is common for returning students, university spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said.
“We’re going to give the students who lived there an opportunity to return,” he said. If they decline, the room will remain unoccupied for now.
It’s possible one or two of them were living there Sunday when the incident happened, Meisenzahl said.
Witnesses told police a 24-year-old man was trying to prevent a 19-year-old man from jumping off the 14th-floor ledge, police said. Both men fell to the ground and were taken to a hospital, where the 24-year-old was pronounced dead.
The medical examiner’s office on Tuesday identified him as Thomas Bennett of Hawaii. The cause of death is multiple blunt trauma, and the manner of death has been ruled an accident. Toxicology tests are pending.
The 19-year-old remained in critical condition Tuesday, police said.
Neither Bennett nor the 19-year-old were university students, but they were at the apartment because a resident had people over.
Students assigned to the Hale Wainani buildings, which tend to be for upperclassmen, are expected to move in on Friday.
It’s among the student housing complexes scheduled for upcoming renovations, which would include window updates, Meisenzahl said.
The 1979 towers feature wide windows that slide open. “And like most architecture in Hawaii, it’s designed to take advantage of the natural ventilation, to take advantage of trade winds,” Meisenzahl said.
“Because of this incident we’re taking a closer look, and it’s possible the window renovations could get moved up,” he added.
The ledge where police said the 19-year-old was on is less than 6 inches wide, Meisenzahl said.
There aren’t any standards for student housing windows being able to open fully, said Steve Kardian, a campus safety expert in Thornwood, New York.
“These buildings are older, and they don’t factor in the judgment of our young who may be indulging or overindulging in alcohol,” he said.
The university is investigating whether there were any violations of the student code. Alcohol is permitted for residents who are at least 21 years old, but there’s no information to indicate there was alcohol in the apartment at the time, Meisenzahl said.
The school year has not started yet, so only about 20 students – those in need of transitional housing between the summer and fall sessions – were living in Hale Wainani at the time.
The university’s flagship campus in Honolulu’s Manoa neighborhood is generally a commuter school without much of a fraternity scene, Meisenzahl said. About 4,000 of its 18,000 students live in campus housing.
Freshmen and transfer students began moving in on Tuesday.
One of the incoming freshmen, Natalie Norman, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, said she didn’t really know much about the incident. “I wouldn’t base my experience here on that tragic incident,” she said.
Kimberly Bauman, of Portland, Oregon, had just helped her daughter settle into her dorm. She said she’ll be a little worried, “just because she’s from Oregon and we’re going to be an ocean away.”
Overall, she added, “It’s a very safe environment here, you can tell.”
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