1 dead, 1 critically injured after aerial fireworks explosion

It was tragic start to the New Year—a woman is dead and a man is critically injured after an illegal aerial firework exploded in Kapolei.

It happened just after midnight on Komohana Street in Campbell Industrial Park.

According to police, they were lighting the fireworks for a New Year’s gathering. It’s not clear how many people were present.

“First unit arrived on scene and reported bystander CPR in progress on a female in her 30s and there was also another male patient with injuries,” said Capt. Kevin Mokulehua with the Honolulu Fire Dept.

A 38-year-old woman was hospitalized in critical condition and died from her injuries.

A 36-year-old man remains hospitalized with critical injuries.

Police have opened cases for unattended death, injured care for, and prohibited explosive device.

The investigation is ongoing. No one has been arrested or cited.

Scene of the fatal firework incident on New Year's Eve. It happened on Komohana Street in Campbell Industrial Park.
Scene of the fatal firework incident on New Year’s Eve. It happened on Komohana Street in Campbell Industrial Park.

It was evident last night, that although aerial fireworks have been banned for years, they’re still getting into the islands by the hundreds.

Police told KHON2 a large gathering was going on when the explosion happened, however, when officers arrived on scene only a few people stuck around to help the victims.

This is not the first time someone has been killed by fireworks. In 2000, an illegal aerial firework killed 25-year-old Stephen Senas Jr. in Waialua. It was Sena’s death that added fuel to a complete ban on fireworks.

Overall, the New Year’s Celebration this weekend was a busy one for the Honolulu Fire Dept. and EMS.

“The Honolulu Fire Dept. responded to 19 fireworks related incidents which doubled last year’s incident totals,” said Capt. Kevin Mokulehua. “Most of the incidents were wildland fires, some structure fires and other miscellaneous fires.”

EMS responded to 28 calls within the first hour of 2017.

“You gotta think about it, we have 18 ambulances to 28 calls within an hour so it was very busy for our EMS units responding last night,” said EMS spokesperson Ian Santee.

From 4 a.m. on New Year’s Eve to 4 a.m. on New Year’s Day, there were more than 170 calls.

Officials say there were seven fireworks related injuries and numerous medical calls for difficulty breathing.

Many of these cases were from the west side of the island.

“That was a little bit different, usually its more spread out across the island but this year a lot of the injuries and related illnesses did happen on the west side of the island,” said Santee.

The fatal incident in Kapolei was among dozens of other fireworks-related incidents on New Year’s Eve.

EMS told KHON2 it responded to a range of incidents, including a firework exploding in a man’s face resulting in serious injuries.

Also, one woman was struck in the foot, also hospitalized in serious condition, and another woman hit in the head.

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