FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Brandon Grant crouched yesterday next to large boulder that crashed through the house at 2035A 10th Ave. Friday in Palolo Valley. Grant, who was in the living room of the house at the time of the crash but lives next door, heard the boulder rolling down the hill before it crashed through a bedroom wall and then through the floor, coming to rest under the house.
House smashed: Kauai trip might have saved life
The boulder crash in Palolo could have been a lot worse
If University of Hawaii at Manoa student John Hagihara hadn't gone home to Kauai for spring break, things might have turned out differently when a 3- to 4-ton boulder crashed into the bedroom of his Palolo home.
The 21-year-old economics major could have been at his computer desk, which was smashed by the boulder that left a large hole in the wall and the floor.
"I'm just going to try and salvage whatever I can," Hagihara said from Kauai. "Then I'd probably go grab a couple of beers."
Bryce Groff, 22, was in Hagihara's living room when the boulder crashed through the wall shortly after 5 p.m. Friday.
"I just heard it getting closer and closer and thought, 'What is that?'" he said. "Then boom, right through the back. We cruised into the hallway and saw that John's room was not there, basically."
Groff went beneath the home, which is supported by poles, to grab Hagihara's books, hard drive and what was left of his laptop.
It's the second time in three years that the house, rented by Hagihara, Groff and another college friend, was hit by a falling boulder. A 400- to 500-pound boulder damaged two bedrooms on March 7, 2005.
"It's not like it's the first time a boulder's fallen down that hill," said Hagihara, who has been renting a room since September. "I'm just glad nobody got hurt."
The third roommate, 20-year-old UH student Ahmad Harmon, said another boulder almost made it into his back bedroom a few weeks ago.
The roommates spoke with landlord Jim Delmonte, who is willing to move them to another property he owns. Their lease expires at the end of this year.
"We were planning on leaving at some point," Harmon said. "But now it'll be sooner than expected. Maybe move somewhere closer to the beach."
Rock falls have been a problem in several Oahu neighborhoods, including Nuuanu, Aina Haina and Hawaii Kai.
Former 10th Avenue resident Dwight Ovitt said his Paloho home was struck by boulders three times in the 10 years he lived on the street. He moved to the Punchbowl area after the third strike.
"I warned the Palolo Neighborhood Board, but as far as I know, nothing happened," Ovitt said. "And when I saw the news, I thought, 'Oh my God, they're still falling.'"
There was a bill introduced in the City Council in 2002 that would have had the city take responsibility if areas were assessed to be a danger, or otherwise charge private landowners for fixes, but nothing came of it, said Palolo Neighborhood Board Secretary Michael Weinstein.
"I think the state needs to inspect and see if anything might be dangerous," Weinstein said. "Somebody may see this as a bigger picture other than just this one house."