Company to be questioned Monday over Hawaii blast

AP News
|
Posted: Apr 10, 2011 7:20 PM
Company to be questioned Monday over Hawaii blast

Investigators plan to question officials at an ordnance disposal company Monday to try to determine the age and type of fireworks inside a storage bunker that exploded, killing five workers and injuring another, afire official said.

Authorities probing the cause of the explosion also want to know what the six employees of Donaldson Enterprises Inc. were doing when the blast occurred Friday and what their training was, Honolulu fire Capt. Gary Lum told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The company, founded in 1988, has completed hundreds of explosive-related projects with no serious accidents or injuries, according to its website.

A call to the company Sunday was not immediately returned. A woman who picked up the phone at a number listed for the company founder's wife, Ryoko Donaldson, said the family was trying to cope and had no comment.

Authorities also plan to return to the blast site Monday to see if the bunker is safe to enter for a more thorough inspection, Lum said.

"The investigator was called out and did some preliminary work on Friday, but it wasn't safe to go in the bunker at that point," he said.

He said the bunker, which is located near the Waikele Business Center, was still warm Saturday, and officials wore protective equipment to retrieve the bodies of the last two victims.

Investigators with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives; Honolulu police; and the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division were helping with the investigation.

The Honolulu Department of the Medical Examiner said it did not expect to release victims' names until Monday, but at least two of the victims have been identified by family members as Robert Leahey, 50, and Justin Kelii, 29.

Leahey's brother, sports broadcaster Jim Leahey, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser his brother was once a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines but had taken some wrong turns and was trying to improve his life.

"He really liked what he did because it was exciting and he liked things like that. I had no idea how dangerous it was," Jim Leahey told the newspaper.

He said he didn't know what his brother did for the company.

Kelii's grandfather, George Kelii, told the newspaper his grandson had been working for Donaldson Enterprises for about a year. The family worried about his safety but he appeared to like the job.

"We don't know what to think right now," Kelii said. "I don't know how something like this could happen."