5-ton buoy falls, killing 2 Pearl Harbor contractors

5-ton buoy falls, killing 2 Pearl Harbor contractors

PEARL HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two Navy contractors died and two others were injured when a buoy they were working on at Pearl Harbor's Middle Loch fell on them Wednesday morning.

The two men have been identified as Justin Saragosa, 30, of  Kapolei and Joefrey Andrada, 42, of Waipahu.

The accident happened just after 10 a.m. in the portion of Pearl Harbor where ships no longer in service are stored.

The Navy and city EMS officials said contractors from Healy Tibbitts Builders were working to replace a huge, 5-ton buoy next to the former USS Tarawa, a Navy amphibious assault ship that was decommissioned in 2009.

"A buoy which was hoisted about 70 feet in the air, the plate which was holding it did fail and then the safety lines did fall," said Shayne Enright, a city Emergency Services spokeswoman.

Enright said the buoy fell and struck two men working on a floating platform, and two others hurt themselves jumping out of the way.

"It weighed about 10,000 pounds. And when it came down, there was nothing between the buoy and the workers down below," Enright said.

Andrada suffered massive injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene, she said.

"They immediately began chest compressions on the one gentleman. The Navy did respond, bringing all four, along with HFD, to shore," Enright said.

Saragosa suffered critical head injuries. Paramedics treated and transported him to a hospital, where he later died.

The other two men, one of whom jumped into the harbor, hurt their legs but were in stable condition and able to walk.

"We're devastated by the loss and our thoughts go out to all of the employees' families," said Patrick Whelan, the General Counsel of Weeks Marine Inc., the New Jersey-based corporate owners of Healy Tibbitts Builders.

"Our condolences go out to all of these families and this time of year, it's especially difficult for all the first responders," Enright said.

Witnesses said the injuries might have been even worse if another nearby worker hadn't seen the falling buoy and yelled at the men under it to get out of the way.

A spokesman for contractor Healy Tibbitts said the company will fully cooperate with the Navy in an investigation of the accident.

"A full investigation into the incident is underway and we will work closely with local officials and agencies," said a Navy spokesman in a statement.  Navy officials could not tell Hawaii News Now exactly what agencies will investigate the accident.

City and federal firefighters responded to the incident and paramedics in two ambulances as well as a district chief from the city's EMS division.

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