Sewage Spill Victim May Sue City

KGMB9

Posted: April 11, 2006 05:35 PM

Brooks Baehr - bbaehr@kgmb9.com

News PhotoA second suspicious illness is being blamed on the sewage spill that fouled Waikiki.

This time the victim is expected to survive, but she may sue the city and state for not posting signs warning of contamination in time to keep her out of the polluted water.

On Tuesday, March 28, Lisa Kennedy went surfing at a spot called "Kaisers" in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

The previous Friday, the city had begun dumping 48 million gallons of raw sewage into the Ala Wai Canal, a measure the city deemed necessary because of a ruptured sewage line in Waikiki.

By the time Kennedy went surfing, millions of gallons of sewage had already made its way down the Ala Wai and into the ocean, but no signs had been posted warning people to stay out the water.

Because she hadn't been warned of potential danger, Kennedy and friends rented boards and paddled out.

"After about an hour, unfortunately, Lisa fell on the coral and got a pretty significant wound on her buttocks," said Kennedy's attorney Rick Fried.

Kennedy had the gash stitched up and began taking antibiotics, but the cut had already been infected with several kinds of bacteria.

"Three of the bugs are found associated with fecal material. The other bug is found only in water, so her infectious disease expert has concluded it is highly probable she obtained these bugs from the raw sewage that was in the water," Fried said.

Kennedy's attorney told KGMB9 she may eventually sue the city and state for not posting warning signs earlier.

"As soon as that enormous sewage dump started they should have gone ahead and posted the waters along that beach area," he said.

The city is referring questions on the matter to the state because the state decides when to close beaches.

The state released the following statement shortly after Fried held a news conference to discuss the situation, saying "The Department of Health exercised its best judgement based on the best information we had at the time."

As of Tuesday, March 11, Kennedy had already spent nine days in the hospital and Fried said she may be there for another week.

Kennedy is not infected with the same bacteria that killed Oliver Johnson. Johnson fell into contaminated water at the Ala Wai Boat harbor, got sick and died.

Again, Lisa Kennedy is expected to survive.