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Man Dies After Hot Ash Dumped On Him

Family Sues Trucking Company That Transported Ash

UPDATED: 6:37 am HST August 24, 2007

News Photo HONOLULU -- A man died weeks after suffering severe burns when a truck dumped hot ash on him at a Nanakuli landfill. Now, his family is suing a local trucking company.

Hale Malaki Jr. survived 50 days with burns over 80 percent of his body. He left behind two young sons and a pregnant wife.

Powdered coal is burned to make electricity at the AES power plant at Campbell Industrial Park. Paling and Son's Trucking transports the waste ash to the PVT Land Co. landfill in Nanakuli. That is where Malaki, 41, was injured.

"Second- and third-degree burns are the worst pain and suffering a human being can endure," Malaki family attorney Wayne Kekina said.

Malaki was supervising dumping on March 5, Kekina said.

There were two deliveries of coal ash to the landfill that morning. The first came out and piled up normally. The second came out like hot lava -- 15 tons of steaming liquid. It caught him behind his knees and knocked him backward, covering up everything except his head and his chest, the family attorney said.

Malaki was still conscious at the time. A co-worker tried to help him, Kekina said.

"(The worker) did describe that the flesh from Mr. Malaki's arms was being balled up into his palms," Kekina said.

The power plant improperly prepared the ash for shipment, an attorney for the landfill said.

So far, the Malaki family is suing the trucking company for not checking its load.

The stress and her pregnancy put Malaki's wife, Landan, in a hospital. Their first daughter is due in about two months.

"The boys now see their mother going to the hospital and that's the last time where they saw their father, and they are feeling some sense of abandonment," Kekina said.

Although the accident raised fears in Nanakuli about ash being trucked to the landfill when it is properly handled, the Department of Health said it does not consider coal ash a health threat. It is used at the private landfill to protect plastic linings and help prevent fire.

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