Safety and education.
That’s the message friends of Liona Spencer want to share almost one year after her death.
Spencer was killed after an illegal firework exploded in the early morning on New Year’s Eve. Keoki Medeiros, Spencer’s boyfriend, was critically injured in the accident.
The Grace ohana tells me their lives forever changed last New Year’s Eve. Spencer was like a daughter to them and they continue to mourn her loss.
As the anniversary of her death approaches and people prepare to celebrate with fireworks, they urge the public to remember to be safe.
George Grace III talked to KHON2 about Spencer and the accident that took her life almost one year ago
“If anybody else is going to get hurt… If everybody can be safe. I don’t know how I’m going to take it,” Grace, owner of Pinky Tows Towing and Paradise Lua, said.
Grace’s nephew Keoki Medeiros was also injured that night. The two had been together for 19 years and had two children together.
Medeiros fully recovered from his injuries and is finally getting back on his feet.
“It’s good to see him smiling again and driving and getting involved with our daily activities,” Grace said.
Grace was there the night of her death. He said just a few hours before she passed, they were all eating dinner together.
The painful memory of her death haunts him.
“If only we all were farther back or down the street or not even involved. A lot of ifs,” Grace said. “But I’m beating myself up for months telling myself if only, if only, if only and it ain’t going to do nothing. It’s not.”
Grace believes that more safety measures and education will help save lives.
“That’s traditions in their family, it shouldn’t be ruined for them. You know what I’m saying. But [education] might save somebody from being hurt or killed,” Grace said.
Donald Pascual of Hawaii Explosives and Pyrotechnics has been in the fireworks business for almost three decades.
“There’s a lot of people that love fireworks and at 12 midnight on December 31st you will see evidence of Hawaii and the use of it,” Pascual said.
He says the best way to make fireworks safe is to make them legal.
“Allow the general public that likes to use (fireworks) to come to a designated area in a safe environment,” Pascual said. “And you have to go through safety classes to be allowed to come into a designated area that allows you to use the fireworks. And have more than just that. Essential parks within your neighborhood so you don’t have to drive 12 midnight around to do fireworks.”
The Grace ohana tells KHON2 they plan to honor Spencer’s memory with a small dinner celebration on New Year’s Eve.