HONOLULU (KHON2) — Have fun but leave the aerial fireworks to the professionals. That’s the message authorities and the family of a woman killed by an illegal aerial firework want to share as people prepare to usher in 2023.
It’s a night for celebrating; but for the family of Liona Spencer, New Year’s Eve festivities are bitter sweet.
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
“It’s definitely not the same New Year’s Eve feeling that we used to have before,” Spencer’s aunt, Jeannette Grace, explained.
“Everybody’s celebrating, but there’s always that one piece that it’s not there. It’s not there. And we all reflect on that.”
Spencer was killed on New Year’s Eve 2017 when an illegal aerial firework exploded. Her partner Keoki Medeiros was also critically injured.
Grace said the accident changed all of their lives in an instant.
“We just feel a loss; and although we all try to be cheerful about things, it’s something that’s in everyone’s mind,” said Grace.
She wants to remind everyone to be extra cautious as they ring in the new year.
“Go out there and celebrate and have fun,” she said. “Just be safe. Be safe, and don’t get hurt. And, don’t do stupid things,” added Grace.
Honolulu Fire Department Fire Inspector Carl Otsuka wants to remind everyone to act responsibly and make sure they have a permit if they plan to light firecrackers, which are the only legal fireworks allowed in Honolulu.
“As far as aerial fireworks, they’re illegal for a reason,” Otsuka said. “People in the past have died have lost limbs. Let’s leave aerial fireworks to the professionals.”
One of several free, legal aerial fireworks shows will kick off at midnight on New Year’s Eve in Waikiki Beach.
If anyone does plan to pop firecrackers, the Otsuka has some safety tips.
“Play with your fireworks outside in an open area, not near anything combustible, not near any buildings or brush.”
And, he said you should light them on the ground and walk away. Do not throw them.
Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
Since Dec. 1, the Honolulu Police Department already received more than 1,600 fireworks related calls.