In the weeks since Kilauea began spewing lava onto Hawaii’s Big Island, the volcano has destroyed dozens of structures and forced around 1,500 people from their homes in the surrounding neighborhoods. But despite the growing danger, and the likelihood that the volcano is nowhere near finished with its recent tantrum, one resident refused to leave his home behind.
Darryl Clinton stuck around to protect his neighborhood from the fiery boulders—aka “lava bombs”—bursting from Kilauea’s active fissures. Like other residents of Leilani Estates, he was told to evacuate. Instead, Clinton stood watch with a fire extinguisher, a garden hose, and some buckets. As flaming lava bombs smashed into homes, he sprayed them down to prevent the houses from going up in flames, according to CNN.
Clinton’s choice, unfortunately, put him in the firing line of the volcano’s wrath. As he stood on his porch, a lava bomb catapulted 200 yards from fissure 17 and struck him in the shin, CBS reports.
“Instead of straight up, it shot it in a horizontal direction—right between the roof and the hand rail of the [porch],” Clinton told CBS. “Snapped my leg in half to where my ankle and foot and my leg were a hinge.”
The lava bomb, roughly the size of a bowling ball, hit Clinton while he was on the phone and his attention was diverted from the eruption. The boulder had already broken bones in his left leg when things got even worse.
“Then I got caught on fire, fell on the floor, grabbed my foot and leg, and held ’em together,” he told CNN.
Thankfully, his ex-wife, Lisa Roach, was nearby to drive Clinton to the hospital.
Just one day before he was struck, Clinton showed CNN around his property. He’d even pointed out a lava bomb that had landed just inches from his house.
Clinton has had two surgeries since the incident and has a metal rod in his leg. Otherwise, he’s doing great, especially for a guy who was legitimately nearly killed by a flaming ball of rock. Check out the video below for his take on the incident.
Clinton’s story is a wild one, but a disclaimer is in order here: He’s lucky to be alive. An erupting volcano like Kilauea is extremely dangerous for a multitude of reasons, so even if you think that chunks of volcanic rock flying through the air sounds like an incredible sight, do us a favor and keep your volcano adventures limited to places where it’s safe to get up close.