2-Ton Boulder Tumbles Into Hawaii Kai Complex

Published On: Nov 13 2007 04:29:28 AM HST
Updated On: Nov 13 2007 09:49:40 PM HST

Lalea townhouse residents in Hawaii Kai were a little shaken up when a boulder came crashing down near their homes.

HONOLULU -

A 2-ton boulder fell from a Hawaii Kai hillside late on Tuesday night, coming to rest just a few feet away from the living room of a town house there.

It happened in the Lalea at Hawaii Kai complex. It is the same development where falling boulders forced the evacuation of two dozen families five years ago.

The people who live at Lalea said they are lucky no one was hurt or killed when the huge boulder came crashing down overnight. Their lawyer said the landowner and developer have made an "astonishing lack of progress" in fixing the rockslide problem above the homes.

A 4 foot-by-4 foot boulder crashed into a fence outside Catherine Ball's townhouse at Lalea between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

"It woke us up with a big crash, but we initially kind of went back to sleep thinking it was something else. Our neighbors came and woke us up," Ball said.

It came down a hillside, cracking part of a concrete drainage trough, then bouncing about 30 feet onto a roadway, leaving a huge divot and then bouncing another 30 feet, crashing into a fence and stopping just short of hitting the house.

"The way the rock bounced is, again, lucky. It bounced to the left, you know. If it bounced straight, who knows?" Lalea site manager Joe Ornellas said.

"It was good that it took the turn," Ball said.

If it had not, Ball said it might have ended up in her living room.

Residents at the complex said heavy rain fell there just a few hours before the boulder came down.

"It is spooky, very, very spooky. Who'd ever thought it would happen again, you know?" Ornellas said.

Landowner Kamehameha Schools and Lalea's developer, Castle and Cooke, paid about $3 million to clear the hillside of rocks and debris and install wire fencing after boulders came down on the makai portion of the property five years ago.

On Thanksgiving night 2002, two big boulders came down the hillside. They crashed into two parked cars during heavy rains.

Castle and Cooke and Kamehameha Schools told some residents of the Lalea subdivision to leave their homes after a geological survey of the area revealed more dangerous boulders.

Twenty-three families living in two buildings at Lalea moved out for about one year, as the landowner and developer cleared the area and installed fencing there.

The attorney for Lalea's association of apartment owners said the landowner and the developer agreed to add similar safety measures above a home on the valley side of the complex about a year ago. Surveying work of the mountainside has begun, but nothing has been installed yet.

"It is very much a delayed response that's inappropriate and the evidence that it's inappropriate is sitting in the roadway," Lalea attorney Phil Nerney said.

"I feel less safe, because that piece came from a larger piece, and it seems like an important supporting piece," Ball said.

Representatives from Kamehameha Schools and Castle and Cooke did not return calls by KITV about the story.

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