Attorneys facing uphill battle for justice after Waikele bunker blast

Family of victims pushing for compensation

Published  6:55 PM HST Apr 08, 2013
HONOLULU -

"You just try to live with the pain," said Deborah Dularte. Her nephew Justin Keli'i was killed on April 8, 2011.

At the bunker where he died in Waikele there are fresh flowers next to old ones and messages in black, bold, next to faded ones.

"It hasn't gotten easier. We're just taking one day at a time," she said.

Two years after Keli'i and four other men died in a Waikele bunker explosion, Dularte is struggling with the reality of a legal mess.

"It's been really disappointing, because justice is supposed to be swift and access to courts should be quick," said Steve Hisaka, who represents one of the victim's families.

"This tragedy never should have come to pass, and these workers should be alive today," said Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso in January, who is the chair of the Chemical Safety Board.

The board found Donaldson Enterprises' poor practices contributed to the fireworks explosion, but to this day, regulations dictating good practices are still scarce.

Charles Donaldson and manager Carlton Finely were indicted on 21 counts in September 2012, but the trial has been pushed back to September 2013.

And four civil lawsuits by family members have bounced between state and federal courts.

Just last month, the cases were delayed again, for months longer.

PHOTOS: Waikele bunker blast -- 2 years later
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April 8 is the anniversary of the bunker explosion in Waikele that killed five men.  Two years later, their families are struggling with a legal mess in their search for justice.

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Click here to see photos from the bunker two years after the blast.

"I think the most difficult thing for them is not having answers," said Hisaka.

Donaldson Enterprises has not been able to get any new permits, but the company is still in business, as the victims of a horrific accident, wait for their nightmare to end.

"I just want to make sure that this isn't swept under the rug," said Dularte.

KITV talked with each of the agencies that issue permits for fireworks storage and disposal.

They said no policies or regulations have changed in light of the Waikele blast.

As of Monday night, Donaldson Enterprises had not said whether they'd changed their practices since the tragedy.

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