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Officials considering radiation poisoning as possible cause of death for city worker

Multiple investigations are underway to determine if a Honolulu city maintenance worker died of radiation poisoning.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 4:26 PM HST|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 8:04 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Multiple investigations are underway to determine if a Honolulu city maintenance worker died of radiation poisoning.

Records obtained by Hawaii News Now indicate the 55-year-old tire repair worker was possibly exposed to radiation while working on a truck at the Keehi Transfer Station on Dec. 19, 2021.

For his family’s privacy, HNN is not revealing his identity.

In the four months following the suspected exposure, the man’s health rapidly deteriorated.

Those who knew him say he lost close to 100 pounds and was hospitalized multiple times, complaining of numbness to his upper body and face, dizziness, nausea, and loss of taste.

In early April, he was found unresponsive. He died the next day.

“The pattern of symptoms that come with this acute radiation syndrome are perfect in this man,” said attorney Rick Fried, who added that radiation poisoning is extremely rare.

“What it does, it attacks the internal organs and particularly the bone marrow,” Fried said. “All we do is personal injury cases and I’ve had potentially two of those types of cases in my long practice.”

HNN confirmed that Hawaii’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation into the case on Feb. 9, two months before the man died. The city is investigating, too.

But city officials wouldn’t answer any questions about the case or discuss whether any other workers may have been exposed. HNN also asked if garbage trucks and trailers are supposed to be hauling any kind of radioactive material, and is still awaiting a response.

“It would seem to me they shouldn’t keep us in the dark,” Fried said. “I think they should certainly be forthcoming.”

According to the city Medical Examiner’s Office, it will likely be another three months before the official cause of death is released in this case.

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