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Boulder crashes into Utah house, injuring woman

Scot Denhalter | Courtesy A boulder crashed through the home of Scot and Wanda Denhalter in St. George at about 3 a.m. Saturday. Wanda Denhalter suffered a broken jaw and sternum and had to have emergency surgery. The boulder is an oblong shape and is about 12 feet long and 9 feet high.

By jennifer dobner

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jan 19 2013 07:25PM
Updated Jan 19, 2013 07:28PM

When Scot Denhalter moved into a new St. George rental home last month, he told his wife, Wanda, that he was a little worried about the boulder-laden red rock ridge hovering above the backyard.

Denhalter, feared that one day the rocks might loosen and come tumbling down upon them.

"She said, ‘no it won’t’," said Denhalter, 62, who teaches English at Dixie State College.

Early Saturday, those fears came true when a huge oblong rock barrelled down the hillside about 3 a.m. crashing into the couple’s bedroom.

The boulder, which Scot Denhalter guessed was about 12 feet long, 9 feet high and 9 feet thick, blew through the west wall of the home near 1600 E. 50 North Circle, and pushed the bed and other furniture more than 4 feet.

Wanda Denhalter, who was sleeping alone, narrowly missed being crushed under the rock, he said.

"I guess she heard the rumbling as it came down the hill and woke up," said Scot Denhalter, who was staying at his son’s nearby home overnight. "She rolled away from the oncoming noise to my side of the bed. If she had decided to swing her legs over the side of the bed and get up to investigate, it would have killed her."

Wanda Denhalter, 63, was struck and injured — her jaw and sternum broken and the skin on her leg ripped open. Bleeding and in pain, however, she managed to get up and call 911, her husband said. Doctors wired Wanda Denhalter’s jaw shut on Saturday and sewed up her leg. She is expected to make a full recovery, he said.

"She’s very lucky," Scot Denhalter said.

It’s not clear what caused the rock to come down Saturday, but Denhalter said neighbors told him water had been trickling down from the homes on the ridge above for several days.

Initially, Denhalter said he thought he might like to drag the boulder into the yard and keep it sort of like a "souvenir." It’s more likely, that the boulder will be broken up and hauled away, he said.

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