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Some kids sickened by Navy’s fuel-tainted water still have symptoms, parents say

Families who say they were sickened by the Navy’s fuel-tainted water are waging a legal battle over medical care to cover their children’s long-term symptoms.
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 5:09 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2022 at 6:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Families who say they were sickened by the Navy’s fuel-tainted water are waging a legal battle over medical care to cover their children’s long-term symptoms.

The Navy has insisted their exposure to petroleum was temporary. But families are demanding compensation.

Daisy Stickney, who lives at Aliamanu Military Reservation, says her 16-year-old daughter went unresponsive this week and doctors aren’t sure why.

Stickney posted a video on social media showing her daughter, Alizay, surrounded by first responders.

“We’ve been poisoned by the jet fuel,” said Stickney, on the video.

“Take a deep breath. Put down your phone. Talk to us,” said one of the first responders.

Stickney says her daughter has suffered seizures and fainting spells since Thanksgiving weekend when military families started complaining of illnesses from the Navy’s fuel tainted water.

“We need help. We need a medivac off this island as soon as possible,” Stickney told Hawaii News Now.

Megan Hernandez of Ford Island says her 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte, is still recovering after she was sickened that same weekend.

“In the middle of the night screaming. We went into her room and her bed was covered in vomit and diarrhea and she sat on my lap for days,” said Hernandez.

“What do I do as a mom to hydrate my sick child, give her more water,” she added, through tears.

After the Navy initially said the water was clean, Army Maj. Amanda Feindt fought for bottled water for her children at the Child Development Center, which has the largest facility at Ford Island.

“It looks like it was reported on or about the 20th of November, but my kids were not getting clean water until the 9th or 10th of December,” said Feindt.

Some families say they’re getting more frustrated that their military doctors aren’t giving them concrete answers that the fuel tainted water is causing longer term health issues.

“My daughter was really affected and she’s sick,” said Ariana Wyatt, who lives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The state Health Department has lifted “do not drink” advisories for only two of 19 neighborhoods on the Navy water system. Hickam residents are still being told not to drink the water.

Wyatt says there’s still an oily sheen to the water and it now smells of sewage not jet fuel.

Lacey Quintero also lives at the Hickam base. She got urine tests and blood tests for her family. She says the results are showing abnormalities and she’s trying to figure it out what it all means.

“My main concern is what has this exposure done to my children’s thyroids,” said Quintero.

A Tripler Army Medical Center spokesperson says hundreds of patients have been seen over the past three months, but “none has been diagnosed with petroleum toxicity.”

But attorney Kristina Baehr noted “it’s hard to show causation in any case like this.”

She, along with Hawaii attorney Lyle Hosoda, are filing federal claims against the government for families sickened by the leaking Red Hill fuel tanks.

Baehr says there are lessons learned from Camp LeJeune.

Nearly a million veterans were potentially exposed to contaminated drinking water at the North Carolina military base from the 1950s to the 80s. Many are fighting for compensation after battling cancer and other illnesses civilian doctors blamed on the tainted water.

“We can see what happens 10 years, 15 years down the line, 20 years down the line for these families, but the difference is we know what’s happening now,” said Baehr.

“We know that every single person who ingested jet fuel is at risk of future harm,” she added.

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