LIHU’E — John Bandmann, one of the founding members of the board of directors of the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative, died from electrocution Tuesday morning while taking down transformers from a electrical transfer station in Kekaha that once served the old Kekaha Sugar Company mill.
Bandmann was working with three members of a group that are part of the Agribusiness Development Corporation, which manages the mill, when the accident occurred.
KIUC officials, who praised Bandmann for his tireless efforts in making KIUC become a reality three years ago, were told of the accident shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Dan Lord, owner of the Kalaheo-based Lord’s Electric, said Bandmann worked occasionally for his company, which was hired by ADC leaders for the work.
At the time of the accident, Bandmann was on a ladder and was cutting wires on the transfer station, reportedly located mauka of the old mill.
“He was working on the Westside, and he got shocked,” Lord told The Garden Island. “He was working on the old mill lines.”
As part of the job, Bandmann was “out there to take down the transformers, and to put them on the ground,” Lord said.
“People were concerned that that the transformers at the old sugar mill were going to fall down,” he said.
Lord said Bandmann worked for him about 40 hours a year for each of the last four years.
“His job was to maintain power lines, and I have known him since 1979,” Lord said. “And he was a good man. He didn’t even have to do this work. He was retired, and he enjoyed this work.”
Bandmann worked as a lineman for Kauai Electric and later for KIUC before retiring, Lord said.
Lord said that if Bandmann was not working as a lineman, “he was always (doing) community service, always working with the Sierra Club, doing things to help the community or church, or something.
“He helped everybody out,” Lord said. “It was a shame that this happened.” More details of the accident were not immediately available.
KIUC board members praised Bandmann during a board meeting held at the KIUC headquarters on Pahe’e Street in the Hana Kukui Building in Kukui Grove Village West in Lihu’e yesterday.
Board Chairman Gregg Gardiner said Bandmann put in thousands of hours, and “worked tirelessly to make KIUC a reality.”
Bandmann was elected to a three-year term with the board in 2003, but stepped down for personal reasons. During the summer of that year, Bandmann requested board members choose Gardiner to fill the remainder of his three-year term.
Board member Jim Mayfield said Bandmann was a member of the Lihue Lutheran Church and was an “obvious candidate to be a board member,” and was “a Hawaiian, a wonderful man.”
Board member Ron Kouchi, who was the chairman of the Kaua’i County Council and a member of the council for some 20 years, said he knew Bandmann for 30 to 40 years.
Kouchi said Bandmann cared deeply about this work, and strived to serve fellow Kauaians in the best way he could.
“He was the guy who re-energized my house after (Hurricane) ‘Iwa (in 1982),” Kouchi said. “He would check the houses in Lawa’i (for downed lines after ‘Iwa).”
Bandmann’s accident makes one realize just how dangerous his type of work can be, although he has done it for many years, Kouchi said.
The accident made him realize, he said, the “danger our (KIUC) lineman face,” and the “danger that is entailed in this job.”
KIUC Chief Operating Officer Randy Hee, a former board member himself, said Bandmann was a good friend of his, and asked for moment of silence at the KIUC meeting, and read a passage in Hawaiian to honor Bandmann’s passing.
- Lester Chang, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or firstname.lastname@example.org.