Thursday, May 27, 1999

Fernandez family photo
Edgar Fernandez is flanked by his daughters Tracy, left, and
Chelsea, as he holds his step grandchild, Anela Kurihara.

Fate deals
isle family another
huge loss

A forklift accident at Barbers
Point harbor orphans
two Kailua teens

Harbor mix-up delays emergency response

By Rod Ohira


ON the day his wife, Miriam, was killed in a car crash four years ago, Edgar Fernandez gathered his two young daughters and sister in the living room of their Kailua home.

He talked to them about fate and destiny.

"My brother taught his girls two very important words on the day their mom died," Zena-Mae Fernandez said. "He told us sometimes things work out because there's no other way. That's fate.

"Then he said the destiny we have is to create our own fate."

Fate, destiny and tragedy have crossed paths again, striking down the pillar of the Fernandez family.

Edgar, 56, an operations supervisor for Hawaii Stevedores, was killed early Tuesday morning when the forklift he was on backed off a pier at Barbers Point deep-draft harbor into water 40 feet deep.

"They're both questioning the why, the unfairness and the why them," Zena-Mae Fernandez said of her nieces, Tracy, 19, and Chelsea, 15. "I can only tell them to remember to pull on the strength of our Lord and that we, as a family, need to pull together."

Zena-Mae said one of the hardest things she's ever had to do was break the news to Chelsea, a Kamehameha Schools student.

"I had to break the news to the little one at school," she said. "I told her there was an accident, that daddy was hurt and he didn't make it. She just lost it.

"We were driving home and she kept saying: 'Daddy will be OK, don't worry,' so I had to pull over and tell her, do you understand daddy is gone, and she just broke down."

Zena-Mae, who has been a mother to the girls, believes her nieces will pull through, just as they did after their mother's death.

"They've had the fastest-paced life growth that any child has ever experienced," Fernandez said. "My nieces know how to keep house, change the car oil and how to be self-sustaining because they've had to learn quickly."

Edgar adored his daughters, and the feeling was mutual, she said. "He worked 12 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week, and many times he'd come home so tired and hurting. But the thing that brightened his day was when the girls came up to greet him saying, 'Hi daddy.' "

Zena-Mae is still not sure about what caused her brother to go off the pier."I'm hearing different things, but yes, I have a lot of questions. My brother was a safety fanatic, so I don't know if visibility was a problem.

"He told me it's dangerous on the docks and the equipment is unsafe. He told me what to do if anything ever happened to him."

Edgar Fernandez, the oldest of four children, was born in Makiki but grew up in Waimanalo. He was a 1960 graduate of Kamehameha Schools, where he played football.

He worked overseas for many years before returning home from Michigan about 10 years ago.

"He enjoyed telling stories of things that happened to him overseas," she said. "He took a lot of pride in his work."

Edgar Fernandez enjoyed riding his motorcycle and was a member of the Keonimana club, which plans a special last-ride ceremony with his ashes on June 5.

"My brother was a biker, a carpenter, a mechanic, a logistics person, a gardener whose favorite pastime was his family," Zena-Mae said.

Survivors also include brothers Ralph of Hilo and Ronald of Los Angeles.

Services are scheduled for 7:30 p,m. June 4 at Hawaiian Memorial Park chapel. Visitation begins at 5 p.m.

Harbor mix-up delays
response to emergency

By Jaymes K. Song


The medical examiner's office has determined that a 56-year-old Hawaii Stevedores operations supervisor died from "asphyxiation from drowning" in an industrial accident at Barbers Point deep-draft harbor.

Edgar Fernandez backed a forklift off a pier into 40 feet of water at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Police have classified the case as a "miscellaneous public death" and do not suspect foul play.

Meanwhile, an investigation is continuing into why emergency medical units took 19 minutes to get to the scene.

Ambulance dispatchers received the first emergency call at 2:34 a.m. The ambulance was on scene at 2:53 a.m., 19 minutes after the call, Emergency Medical Services officials said yesterday.

According to EMS guidelines, the response time for the Barbers Point Harbor should be within 15 minutes.

Fire crews were called for assistance at 2:40 a.m. The ambulance dispatcher asked for the Barbers Point fire station, which is a federal fire station. Federal firefighters from Barbers Point were immediately dispatched.

Six minutes later, the federal firefighters reported that nothing was at the Barbers Point Harbor and asked if the scene could be the deep-draft harbor, which is not military property.

After learning that the scene was the deep-draft harbor, city firefighters were dispatched from Kapolei to assist at 2:50 a.m. They were on scene in seven minutes.

The deep-draft harbor is also listed as Barbers Point Harbor on fire maps.

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