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Fifth man dies from Waikele fireworks explosion

The bodies of two more men are retrieved this afternoon

By Gordon Pang

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:23 p.m. HST, Apr 09, 2011


A man who was hospitalized yesterday after a fireworks explosion at a  Waikele bunker died overnight, bringing the number of fatalities from  the fiery tragedy to five as emergency personnel located the two men who had been missing.

Honolulu police and fire personnel returned this morning to Bunker A-21, where the bodies were found inside the concrete-enforced, tunnel-like structure built into the mountainside.

Family and friends identified the two who were found as Kevin Freeman of Aiea and Neil Sprankle of Mililani. Both were graduates of Radford High School, Class of 2004. They were best friends in school, according to their canoe coach, Gino Dayton.

Their bodies were retrieved this afternoon, fire officials confirmed.

Family members last night said Justin Kelii, 29, of Kaneohe, and Robert Leahey, 50, brother of sportscaster Jim Leahey, also died.

Those who gathered today were being held back about 400 hundred yards from the command center.

The five men, and a sixth person who sustained minor injuries, were employed by Donaldson Enterprises, an ordnance disposal company that held a contract to store confiscated fireworks and that leased space in the bunkers.

There are 130 bunkers in the gulch between Waikele and Kunia owned and leased out by HIDC Small Business Storage. The underground storage facility was built  by the military during World War II to store explosives.

 An official for Straub Hospital and Clinic confirmed that a fifth person admitted in critical condition died last night.






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