Family friends say Colonna’s tried to control narrative about shipyard worker’s death

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Nearly four months after Kenny Oakey was badly injured at Colonna’s Shipyard, his brother Roy is still looking for an explanation about what really happened that caused his death two weeks later.

Family wants answers about shipyard worker’s gruesome death

Oakey was taken to Sentara Norfolk General with brain damage, 11 broken ribs, two fractures on his spine and a crushed collarbone. Family and friends, including Richard Price and Melody Weekly, were there at the hospital. They say Colonna’s was trying to control the narrative about what had happened to Kenny from the very first evening.

“We were there by the door, and this individual came up to the door to come in,” Price said in a Friday interview.

Price and Weekly said it was Chris Hartwig from Colonna’s HR department.

“He was there to see if he could do anything on behalf of Colonna’s and said that he was really sorry to hear about Kenny’s heart condition,” Weekly said. “And everybody just kind of stopped and froze and looked at him.”

Because Kenny didn’t have a heart condition.

“His family spoke up and said no, Kenny is really healthy,” Price said. “He didn’t have any heart problems or anything like that.”

The 60-year-old machinist skied, snowboarded and went on hikes.

“And my daughter said, ‘you’re here doing damage control. Kenny didn’t have heart problems,'” Weekly said. “And [Hartwig] went on to say that someone saw him grab his chest and fall to the ground. And that’s how they were saying the accident happened.”

“And I said to my wife, ‘Hey, this guy is not here for Kenny. You know, he’s trying to find information,'” Price said. “And that’s when I said to my wife, ‘it’s not my call, but somebody needs to have this guy leave.'”

Colonna’s Shipyard did not respond to our call for comment.

Roy Oakey was told that Kenny had fallen from a ladder. OSHA is investigating, and Weekly said the agency has contacted her several times.

The Oakey family attorney, Adam Lotkin, said he’s reached out multiple times to Colonna’s Shipyard to find the truth, and is hoping for more transparency. He’s looking forward to the results of the OSHA investigation, adding he’s “not passing judgment on a local business.”

Meanwhile Roy Oakey’s friends are helping him cope with the grief and uncertainty.

“Roy just needs the truth,” Weekly said. “He just needs some closure.”

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