Tuesday | October 17, 2017
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State briefs for October 5

HFD fined for violation at Marco Polo scene

HONOLULU (AP) — The Honolulu Fire Department announced it is working with the state to ensure workplace safety after it was cited for not following proper safety procedures and exposing firefighters to asbestos in the deadly blaze at the Marco Polo condominium.

The department was fined $7,000 after many of the 120 firefighters who responded to the July 14 incident didn’t properly bag contaminated protective firefighting gear and equipment while at the scene, instead waiting until they returned to their stations or the next day.

The department has up to 20 days to contest the citation and didn’t initially state why procedures weren’t followed.

Department spokesman Capt. David Jenkins said the department will provide further information once the process is completed.

The Hawaii Fire Fighters Association in July filed the initial complaint about the incomplete decontamination procedures.

HFD received confirmation in August that the Marco Polo building contained asbestos and it is taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of firefighters’ gear that might have been exposed to the hazardous material.

Shoreline parks closing to clear homeless camps

HONOLULU (AP) — Safety concerns brought on by an estimated 180 homeless people living along the Kakaako shoreline in Honolulu prompted an indefinite closure of Kakaako Waterfront Park, park officials said.

Park officials can no longer ensure the safety of park users following a recent series of dog bites, fires and vandalism attributed to the homeless people, said Jesse Souki, the executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

The park will be closed starting Sunday night. Kakaako Gateway Park and Kewalo Basin also will close Sunday for the same reason.

Souki said authorities will sweep the estimated 120 hardened encampments the night of closure. Homeless outreach workers already began the process of letting illegal campers know there is space at shelters on the island.

There is no timetable for when the parks will reopen, but Souki said he hopes to at least have Gateway Park open in a month.

Man in flight disturbance case pleads guilty

HONOLULU (AP) — A Turkish man pleaded guilty Tuesday to interfering with a flight crew and blamed his inflight behavior that prompted fighter jets to escort the plane to its Honolulu destination on hallucinating that he was chasing a butterfly.

A butterfly suddenly came out of the pocket of the seat in front of him, Anil Uskanli said Tuesday in a Honolulu federal courtroom while describing what he did during the May 19 American Airlines flight from Los Angeles.

“The butterfly went crazy … flew into the toilet,” he said. “I followed it. I tried to kill it by punching it.”

Uskanli, 25, said he now realizes that he was ill and hallucinating.

To flight crew and passengers, Uskanli’s behavior was concerning, including when he walked to the front of the plane with a blanket wrapped around his head and carrying a laptop crew members feared contained explosives, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Brady said.

After Uskanli returned to his seat and with an off-duty officer sitting with him, the laptop remained on a drink cart, which prompted the captain to initiate bomb-threat procedures, Brady said.

The Hawaii National Guard scrambled two fighter jets to escort the plane to Honolulu. The secretary of Homeland Security was briefed.

Uskanli faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. But prosecutors don’t expect to ask for more incarceration than what Uskanli already has served.

 

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