Families of Waikele bunker explosion victims file lawsuits

Published: May. 24, 2012 at 9:33 PM HST|Updated: May. 25, 2012 at 9:33 AM HST
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Deborah Dulatre
Deborah Dulatre
George Kelii
George Kelii
Steve Hisaka
Steve Hisaka

KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the patio of their Kaneohe home, Justin Kelii's relatives handle photographs of him and ponder memories.

"We like to talk about him." his aunt Deborah Dulatre said.

But reminiscing always ends with a reality check.

"Justin is not here," she said. "He'll never come back."

Kelii and four other men died in a fiery explosion at a Waikele storage bunker last year, while dismantling fireworks.

"Dismantling fireworks within 10 or 15 feet of where thousands of pounds of fireworks are being stored is just an unsafe practice," attorney Steve Hisaka said.

Hisaka and lawyers for the other victims are now suing seven companies here and on the mainland, alleging they neglected to oversee the work.

"If they had the supervision there, they could have stopped the job when it rained instead of going inside to do something like that," Kelii's grandfather George Kelii said.

"It's about losing somebody that you love and trying to get justice for that," Dulatre said.

Kelii, Robert Kevin Freeman, Neil Sprankle, Bryan Cabalce and Robert Leahey worked for Donaldson Enterprises. The explosives disposal company is not named in the suit.

"They want answers," Hisaka said of the plaintiffs. "They want to know why this happened. They want to know whether it could have been prevented."

The suit seeks damages and disclosure.

"There's still a lot of information and material out there that we will only be able to get as a result of formal discovery as a result of our filing the lawsuit," Hisaka said.

"I want justice for responsibility for what happened," George Kelii said.

"We just miss him so much," Dulatre said.

The Kelii family said taking legal action was their last resort.


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