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Kalihi Valley, HI Powder Explosion, Dec 1902



Careless handling of nearly twenty pounds of giant powder caused a terrific explosion about 6 o'clock yesterday morning in the house of KALAPOEPOE, a Hawaiian, in Kalihi Valley, about a mile and a quarter above King Street, on the road leading past the Cummings place. As a result of the explosion KEKAHA, a native about 20 years of age, was blown to pieces. Other inmates of the house were KALEHUA, about the same age, who now lies in the Queen's Hospital with both eyes mutilated, his ear drums shattered, with few chances of surviving the shock, as he had not recovered consciousness up to a late hour last night. MRS. KALAPOEPOE sustained injuries in the head, neck and shoulders, and the end of one of her fingers is missing, while small splinters of wood were driven into her body. PAUKEAHO, aged about 50, was severely hurt by timbers falling upon him. SAM KEKAHA, a boy aged 9, was blown through the house and landed some distance away although he was not badly hurt. AIKAHELE, a girl aged 15, and PAULO, a boy aged 19, were little more than bruised; the former, in fact, being the only one who really escaped injury.
The explosion was heard all over town, and sound sleepers were awakened by the shock. It was generally believed that a heavy blast had been discharged in the Kalihi Quarry. There were several versions of the cause of the explosion. One was that KALAPOEPOE and his wife had not been on good terms for a few days, and that he returned yesterday morning and touched off the dynamite to destroy his family and others. KALAPOEPOE, however, was very drunk when the explosion took place, and was then in the house of a neighbor. Even when he viewed the scene of the catastrophe, he was unable to comprehend its full significance, and was taken to the station house to sober up.
Deputy Sheriff Chillingworth was notified of the affair about 8:30 and visited the place with a coroner's jury. They found that the house had been blown to smithereens and evidences of the terrific force of the explosion were shown in the distance to which portions of KEKAHA'S body had been carried. Part of a leg was found in one place, the head in another, and so on.
From what the deputy sheriff could gather, KEKAHA had risen early and gone into the mauka room, where giant powder was kept. KEKAHA worked at the government quarry and probably had brought the explosives, piece by piece, to the house. As it was a rainy morning and there was nothing to do at the quarry, the police are of the opinion that KEKAHA was preparing some of the sticks to be used in fishing in Kalihi Bay. MRS. KALAPOEPOE said at the hospital that she heard something sputtering in the mauka room, when she arose to see whether her husband had returned home. She looked into the room where KEKAHA was smoking a pipe, and saw him going toward the outer door with a box of giant powder under his arm, evidently to throw it out of the house.
She remembers nothing more, except that a terrific explosion came at that instant. MRS. KALAPOEPOE stated later that her relations with KEKAHA were friendly but not intimate. The police believe that the explosion was due to an accident.
Most of the other inmates of the house were asleep when the stick went off. SAM KEHAHA, the boy, says the first he knew of it was when he was blown from his bed into the air and struck the ground outside. MRS. KALAPOEPOE was pinned under the wreckage of the house, while KALEHUA, who was near the place where KEKAHA was last seen, received the full sweep of the concussion. He was rendered unconscious and when picked up by the police it was seen that his sight was gone and that his ears were mutilated as well.
SAMUEL KALIHAMA was the first man to reach the scene of the tragedy. He was asleep in his house, which is about 40 yards distant, at the time the explocion occurred, and ran at once to the wrecked cottage. He found nearly everyone of the inmates lying or sitting on the ground, stupefied and injured. KALEHNA seemed to be the worst off. He helped old PAUKEAHO to get out from under the wreckage on the Ewa side, and then notified the police.
The injured people were taken to the Queen's Hospital. When Dr. Curtis examined KALEHUA he found that his head had come in contact with the powder as his face was powder-stained and burned.
KALEHUA had not recovered consciousness up to a late hour last night, and the others were about the same as when brought in.
The inquest will not be held until next Wednesday evening.

Hawaiian Gazette Honolulu Hawaii 1902-12-16

article | by Dr. Radut