Family marks second anniversary of fatal Waikele bunker blast - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Family marks second anniversary of fatal Waikele bunker explosion

George Kelii George Kelii
Deborah Dulatre Deborah Dulatre
WAIKELE,OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

In the nearly two years since a blast ripped through a Waikele storage bunker and killed five men, many remembrances have been left at the site. On Sunday, the day before the second anniversary of the explosion, the family of one of the men came to leave more flowers in tribute.

The aunts, grandparents and other relatives of Justin Kelii came with those flowers. They also wrote their thoughts on the bunker's doors, adding to other written tributes that have faded over time.

This is only the third time that Kelii's family has visited the bunker. Family members said visiting the site is difficult, because it still seems like only yesterday that the blast happened. "Because of the pain, you know?," said Kelli's grandfather, George Kelii. "It doesn't subside any."

The explosion on April 8, 2011, claimed the lives of Kelii, Robert Kevin Freeman, Neil Sprankle, Bryan Cabalce and Robert Leahey. The five men were the storage bunker, dismantling illegal fireworks, when the explosion occurred.

After the debris from the explosion was cleaned up, the bunker's entrance has been left alone. Memorials include several empty beer bottles that were left soon after the tragedy. Nothing left by friends and family, including photos of Freeman and Sprankle and tributes written on or etched into the doors, has been removed over the past two years. But questions also remain.

"I don't ever think there's ever going to be a definite answer to exactly what happened or how it happened," said Kelii's aunt, Deborah Dulatre.

"Thinking about what happened here and that's all I think of him being in that bunker, and they couldn't get him out. They left him in there all night. That's another question I had, too," said George Kelii.

Families of the men filed multiple lawsuits in connection with the deaths. Last September, a federal grand jury handed down an indictment against Donaldson Enterprises Incorporated, which employed the five men.

"We want to hold somebody responsible. So that's what our lawyers are doing, and we're in the process of finding out who that is. So it's still an ongoing process," said Dulatre.

Until they can find those answers, Kelii's ohana tries to remember him as best they can.

Dulatre said her faith helps her cope. "The peace that I get is from knowing where Justin is, knowing that I will see him again. So that peace, there is that. But the longing to hear his voice, the longing to see his face again -- that never goes away."

Previous story: Federal grand jury hands down indictment in fatal Waikele fireworks blast


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