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Summer Fun turned into a summer scare for dozens of children at Palolo Valley District Park on Friday.
Fifteen children were sent to the hospital after pepper spray was accidentally set off.
The children were at the gym at the time and were immediately evacuated.
No one was seriously injured, but there were some nervous parents.
Shortly after 9 a.m. some of the parents got an urgent call from the Summer Fun staff.
“She said we’re at Queen’s Hospital and I said, ‘What’s wrong? Is he okay?’ That’s what I want to know yeah. They’re okay apparently one of the kids found a pepper spray,” parent Kat Lobendahn said.
Her son is feeling much better now, but got the full effect when it happened.
KHON2’s Manolo Morales: “You were coughing?”
Summer Fun participant Tetu Morse: “Yeah, for a little bit and then my nose when I breathe out it started to feel like fire a little bit.”
It’s still not clear how the pepper spray wound up in the gym and how it got set off.
“Somebody left it in the bleachers and some kids found it and started playing with it,” grandparent Paul Bennett said.
Others say one of the kids accidentally stepped on it.
Honolulu Police had been giving a presentation to the children at the time, but HPD says the spray did not belong to any of the officers.
Police say the children were sent to the hospital as a precaution. Other kids just got a bit of a scare.
“No one was crying, but some people really hurting. Yeah, my eyes just felt weird I just rubbed them and it went away,” 5-year-old Sam Bennett said.
“They got sprayed and there was coughing and they was wiping their eyes,” 6-year-old Ikaika Viela said.
Parents are relieved that no one was seriously hurt, but some question why all the parents were not notified — only the parents whose children were sent to the hospital were.
“I asked them why they didn’t call me they said because he wasn’t sprayed,” parent LeAnne Viela said.
HPD is investigating the case to find out where the pepper spray came from.
The city says if the child had intentionally sprayed it, then the child could get kicked of the Summer Fun program.