Injured worker cleared for treatment after months of waiting

Lito Gaspar

What a difference a day makes.

One of the injured workers from the shipyard buoy accident who’s been waiting for medical care has now been approved to get surgery.

Welder Lito Gaspar tore ligaments in his left knee trying to get out of the way from a five-ton buoy that fell 70 feet. Two of his co-workers died.

It happened three months ago and this whole time, the prescribed surgery was not approved.

That changed after we shared his story.

Gaspar’s attorney told KHON2 he got a call Wednesday morning that medical care and a psychologist had been approved after months of waiting and less than 24 hours after our story aired.

KHON2 visited Gaspar at his Ewa Beach home, where he was clearly relieved and grateful.

“I couldn’t believe it because only one day, how long I’ve been waiting,” he said. “I just thank you guys for helping me out.”

Gaspar said he still can’t wipe away the terrifying memory of the buoy crashing down where he was working.

As an injured worker, he’s also supposed to get worker’s compensation, but he says he didn’t get his first check until last week, forcing him to miss a mortgage payment.

“That’s why I got the bad credit for my house already,” he said. “I got the late payment so I have to pay my penalty, $162.”

But those checks will also start coming in regularly.

Attorney Jay Friedheim says two other workers from Healy Tibbitts are waiting for their medical approval. He expects that to happen after Gaspar shared his story.

“This is not a guy who’s comfortable standing up, and he courageously has helped and his coworkers are going to be helped,” Friedheim said.

Friedheim still plans on filing a lawsuit on behalf of the three injured workers in the near future.

There’s still no clear explanation as to why the insurance company, Weeks Marine, denied the medical services for so long. Weeks Marine and Healy Tibbitts are sister companies.

When KHON2 called Healy Tibbitts Tuesday, company officials said a statement would be coming. It finally responded Thursday with the following statement from president Rick Heitzel:

“Healy Tibbitts has approved the medical requests submitted to date following the protocols set forth for this type of incident. We will continue to provide support to our employees to ensure they receive the care needed for their recovery.”

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