Sleeping St. George woman gets rude awakening when boulder tumbles into bedroom

Jan 22 2013 - 2:29pm

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A bystander photographs a 12-by-9-foot boulder as it rests in the master bedroom of a home in St. George, Utah on Jan. 19, 2013. Wanda Denhalter, 63, was sleeping alone when she narrowly missed being crushed under the boulder early Saturday morning, said her husband, Scot Denhalter. She was taken to a St. George hospital, where she underwent four hours of surgery for non-life-threatening injuries. She also suffered a large leg gash. It's unknown what caused the boulder to come down about 3 a.m., but Scot Denhalter thinks a broken water pipe at a ridgetop home might have had something to do with it. (AP Photo/The Spectrum & Daily News, Trevor Christensen)
A 12x9 foot boulder rests in the master bedroom of a home in St. George, Utah Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. Wanda Denhalter, 63, was sleeping alone when she narrowly missed being crushed under the boulder early Saturday morning, said her husband, Scot Denhalter. She was taken to a St. George hospital, where she underwent four hours of surgery for non-life-threatening injuries. She also suffered a large leg gash. It's unknown what caused the boulder to come down about 3 a.m., but Scot Denhalter thinks a broken water pipe at a ridgetop home might have had something to do with it. (AP Photo/The Spectrum & Daily News, Trevor Christensen)
A bystander photographs a 12-by-9-foot boulder as it rests in the master bedroom of a home in St. George, Utah on Jan. 19, 2013. Wanda Denhalter, 63, was sleeping alone when she narrowly missed being crushed under the boulder early Saturday morning, said her husband, Scot Denhalter. She was taken to a St. George hospital, where she underwent four hours of surgery for non-life-threatening injuries. She also suffered a large leg gash. It's unknown what caused the boulder to come down about 3 a.m., but Scot Denhalter thinks a broken water pipe at a ridgetop home might have had something to do with it. (AP Photo/The Spectrum & Daily News, Trevor Christensen)
A 12x9 foot boulder rests in the master bedroom of a home in St. George, Utah Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. Wanda Denhalter, 63, was sleeping alone when she narrowly missed being crushed under the boulder early Saturday morning, said her husband, Scot Denhalter. She was taken to a St. George hospital, where she underwent four hours of surgery for non-life-threatening injuries. She also suffered a large leg gash. It's unknown what caused the boulder to come down about 3 a.m., but Scot Denhalter thinks a broken water pipe at a ridgetop home might have had something to do with it. (AP Photo/The Spectrum & Daily News, Trevor Christensen)

ST. GEORGE -- A St. George woman received a rude awakening when a huge boulder tumbled down a ridge into her bedroom, sending her to the hospital with a broken jaw and sternum.

Wanda Denhalter, 63, was sleeping alone when she narrowly missed being crushed under the boulder early Saturday morning, said her husband, Scot Denhalter.

Her husband, who wasn't home at the time, said she apparently heard a rumbling noise before the 12-by-9-foot boulder crashed through the back wall of the house and pinned her in the bedroom.

"She rolled away from the oncoming noise to my side of the bed," Scot Denhalter told The Salt Lake Tribune. "If she had decided to swing her leg over (her) side of the bed to investigate, it would have killed her."

The boulder pushed the bed and other furniture more than 4 feet, he said, and his wife managed to get up and call 911 after being struck.

She was taken to a St. George hospital, where she underwent four hours of surgery for non-life-threatening injuries. She also suffered a large leg gash.

It's unknown what caused the boulder to come down about 3 a.m., but Scot Denhalter thinks a broken water pipe at a ridgetop home might have had something to do with it.

"It's been kind of leaking into the fissures and cracks of the ridge, and I think last night when the water froze it (boulder) snapped and down it came," Scot Denhalter told The Spectrum of St. George.

When the Denhalters moved into the rental house in December, he told his wife that he was concerned about the boulder-covered ridge above the backyard.

"I said you could have a big boulder snap and come down and come right through the house, but she said that would never happen," said Scot Denhalter, an English instructor at Dixie State College.

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