2 charged in New Year's explosion on Aiea street
An 11-year-old girl had a hole blown in her hand by the blast from a homemade bomb
Prosecutors have charged two men with setting off a homemade bomb that severely injured an 11-year-old girl in Aiea last New Year's Eve.
Joelson G. Ea and Marc B. Bantolina were each charged with second-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangering, third-degree criminal property damage and possession of a prohibited firearm.
The homemade bomb blew a hole through the left hand of Cydnee Somera. According to a police affidavit, Somera had been playing along Kihale Street and popping fireworks when she noticed three men who carried a white bucket and placed it in the middle of the street just after midnight.
STAR-BULLETIN / JANUARY 2005
A homemade bomb blew a hole through the left hand of Cydnee Somera, 11, of Ewa Beach last New Year's Eve.
Shortly afterward, Somera said she heard a loud boom and put her hands up and felt something hit her left hand. She told police, "I felt something wet, and then I looked down and it was my blood." She ran to her mother, who took her to the hospital.
The blast, which exploded with enough force to damage parked cars, broke three of Cydnee's wrist bones and caused nerve damage. She underwent surgery to treat her injuries.
According to the affidavit, witnesses saw Ea, Bantolina and a third man place the bucket in the middle of the street prior to the explosion.
A witness, Nelson Lagadon, told police he wished the men a happy New Year and hugged his son, then heard an explosion. He looked back and saw "this flame go up in the sky" and felt "sand on my head," though he was not sure where the sand came from.
Another witness, Roxanne Lein, identified both Ea and Bantolina in a photographic lineup and told police that she saw them loading the bucket with bricks and sand and then put a balloon in the bucket. The affidavit states that Lein saw both men drop a Morning Glory sparkler into the bucket and then saw it explode.
Afterward, Lein said she ran up the street and saw Ea "full-on crying" and heard him ask out loud, "Did anyone get hurt?"
Police interviewed Bantolina on April 12, when he claimed he did not see the explosion because he was inside his garage.
According to the affidavit, Bantolina said Ea came into his garage and told him, "the bucket ... wen' blow up ... it wen' fail." He also claimed that Ea had placed an aerial inside the bucket, packed it with sand and then put a weight to hold it down.
Bantolina admitted to police that prior to the explosion, he had been filling balloons with acetylene and then setting them off by throwing Morning Glory sparklers at them underneath a bridge on Kihale Street.
When police informed Bantolina that witnesses had seen him next to the bucket before the explosion, he told detectives, "I have no idea on that one, I just ... the only thing I know is I wasn't there."
Police bomb technicians determined the explosive device was likely composed of a bucket with a balloon containing a mixture of oxygen and acetylene; a barbell weight; small amounts of sand and hollow tile; and a sparkler.
According to Certified Bomb Technician Sgt. Derek Hanzawa, the combination of those items could create an explosive device that could cause "serious injury to persons within a radius of approximately 50 feet or more."