W Hotel to Replace All Glass Panels After Second Incident

KVUE: Management from Austin's W Hotel says it will replace every balcony glass panel on the building after three more panels fell onto the street Monday. No one was hurt from the falling balcony glass Monday. However, since this is the second such episode this month, hotel management had to respond.

For a few seconds Monday, office workers across from the W Austin Hotel thought they were experiencing a severe weather event.

"It was really scary, because we were just sitting in our office working," said Liz Deanda, who works across the street from the W Austin Hotel. "All of a sudden you just heard this loud noise, and you saw something hitting the glass that sounded like hail."

But it wasn't hail. It was glass hitting the glass. A panel from a balcony on the 31st floor broke. As it fell, it broke two other balcony panels, causing glass to cascade down onto the section of Third street between Guadalupe and Lavaca.

"I do know that there were some from the W who were smoking outside," said Travis Donald, who works across the street from the W. Austin Hotel. "When it started to fall they all leaned up against the wall as it was raining down on them."

Five vehicles below were hit by the falling glass. In a statement the W Austin Hotel referred to the damage as minimal. But try telling that to patsy Arebalo. Her Nissan Altima had the windshield and windows broken, plus damage to the roof and hood of her car. "I said, 'Oh my God. What is going to happen,'" said Arebalo. "Here is my car, and its like, I just can't believe it. Not only that but three weeks ago the glass fell off from the hotel, and now this has happened again."

These are the photos taken by a hotel guest on June 10th, the first time balcony glass fell from the W Austin Hotel. Some people received minor cuts and stitches but there were no life threatening injuries.

After two similar incidents in a three week span, the general manager of the W Austin issued a statement that reads in part, "… given that two other glass balcony panels shattered on June 10, the owners of the project have made the decision to replace every balcony glass panel on the building."

"You would have thought that by now they were going have it repaired," said Arebalo. "In the future what is going to happen if something was to happen? Someone could get hurt with all the falling glass."

In its statement, the W Austin says it's still investigating why the glass balcony panels broke. As a precaution, W residents got notices requesting they do not use their balconies until further notice.


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