Hawaii Island police: July Fourth reveler killed after firework goes off in his hand

A 20-year-old Kailua-Kona man died during Independence Day celebrations after a firework went off as he was holding it above his head, Hawaii Island police have
Published: Jul. 5, 2023 at 12:57 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 5, 2023 at 5:20 PM HST
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KONA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 20-year-old Kailua-Kona man died during Independence Day celebrations after a firework went off as he held it above his head, Hawaii Island police have confirmed.

He’s been identified as Glen John Nakata.

According to Hawaii Island police, officers were called out just before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to a retail parking lot along Kamakaeha Avenue in Kailua-Kona.

Over on Maui, fire officials noted several emergencies that required their help. While most of them were minor, two brush fires required multiple units.

When officers arrived, Nakata was lying on the ground with a substantial head injury.

Bystanders reported to police that they saw Nakata holding a fireworks launcher above his head when the firework went off. It sent him to the ground, where he laid injured.

Emergency crews responded and took him to the Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead just before midnight.

“Take it to heart; it’s an unfortunate tragic event that happened, you know, he is a young man; he is someone’s son,” said Capt. Calvin Delaries of Hawaii Police Dept. “Just to remind the public, you know, for times like this, you know, enjoy the holidays, but remember to be safe.”

“We do have rules, regulations, and laws in place, especially regarding fireworks. When it comes to this time of year.”

“We always have these reports of injuries and people taking the celebrations too far, so it’s just a sad thing to hear,” said State Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole.

Keohokalole co-introduced a bill that the Governor recently signed to create an illegal fireworks task force of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

“We can’t ban people from acting recklessly, but overall, this just happens too much,” said Keohokalole. “So, there’s something we can do about it, and I think everybody understands that we do need to take action and figure out a way to curtail, you know, especially the really inconsiderate and unsafe stuff that goes on in our community.”

An autopsy has been scheduled, and police want any other witnesses to come forward by calling Officer Melani Cline at (808) 326-4646, ext. 253.

Laws for consumer-grade fireworks like fountains and sparklers differ from county to county.

Aerial fireworks, however, are illegal statewide.