Relatives, friends remember woman killed in fireworks accident

Relatives, friends remember woman killed in fireworks accident
Keoki Mederios and Liona Spencer (image: family)
Keoki Mederios and Liona Spencer (image: family)
Liona Spencer and Keoki Mederios (image: family)
Liona Spencer and Keoki Mederios (image: family)
Keoki Mederios and Liona Spencer (image: family)
Keoki Mederios and Liona Spencer (image: family)
Liona Spencer and Keoki Mederios (image: family)
Liona Spencer and Keoki Mederios (image: family)

KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 38-year-old woman killed New Year's Day in a fireworks explosion was remembered Monday as a loving mother, friend and colleague.

Family members identified the victim as Liona Spencer, a Waipahu High School graduate and mother of two.

Authorities say the accident happened shortly after midnight at 91-229 Komohana St. in Campbell Industrial Park.

Spencer and a man, identified by family members as 36-year-old Keoki Medeiros, had been lighting fireworks at a large gathering when the explosion happened. Medeiros, the woman's longtime partner, was critically injured in the explosion.

Police sources and witnesses said the couple were igniting an illegal aerial firework inside a pipe when the explosion happened.

By Monday, a growing memorial had formed near where the accident occurred.

"[Spencer] was an incredibly kind, fun-loving and dependable member of the Grace ohana," the Medeiros family said in a statement Monday.

"As a daughter, sister, mother and partner, family meant everything to her. She was known for cracking jokes, being reliable under pressure, and being a caring and kind person. Liona was our everything."

The statement called Spencer's death a "tragic accident." Police have opened unattended death and prohibited explosive device investigations, but no arrests or citations have been issued.

"For the Honolulu Fire Department, it was a very busy New Year's Eve. The Honolulu Fire Department responded to 19 fireworks-related incidents, which doubled last year's incident totals," said Capt. Kevin Mokulehua, of the Honolulu Fire Department.

Meanwhile, the city's Emergency Medical Services responded to 271 emergency calls, including 28 between midnight and 1 a.m.

"We had 18 ambulances responding to 28 calls within an hour so its was very busy for our EMS responding to calls," said Ian Santee, EMS's deputy director.

The increase in fireworks-related calls comes at as a record number of fireworks permits were issued by the city this year.

In all, 17,151 permits were sold, or about 3,340 more permits than were issued in 2015.

There were also at least two fireworks-related incidents on the Neighbor Islands.

On Kauai, a 28-year-old man setting off fireworks suffered serious injuries to his right hand, according to county officials. The man and his friends were setting off fireworks when a firecracker exploded midair.

And on Maui, emergency personnel treated a man who suffered injuries to his face after an unexpected ignition of fireworks.

Police sources say he was rushed to the hospital in critical condition after an aerial firework exploded in his face. He was airlifted to Oahu and was fighting for his life, but family members say he is expected to survive.

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