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Rockslide survivor recalls harrowing story: 'Oh my God, I got a big hole in my head'

HONOLULU (KHON2) - He was hit by a boulder about the size of an oven, and he never saw it coming.

Now recovering with serious injuries to his head and arm, Dirk Recopuerto says he's lucky to be alive.

It will take several months before he's completely healed, but Recopuerto says he's just glad that he's able to tell the story.

"That place is dangerous," he said.

He and two co-workers were moving items from a storage facility in Waikele on Oct. 30 when he heard what he thought was thunder. That rumbling sound was rocks sliding down a hillside. 

"Nobody saw it coming. It just landed on us. I didn't even know it was a boulder until the other rock hit me that landed on the side," he said.

Recopuerto got the worst of it. The biggest boulder, about four-by-four feet, hit him on the head, and knocked him to the ground.

"I was wondering why there was so much blood on my head. There was a big gash. I felt my head and I said, 'Oh my God, I got a big hole in my head.' I was thinking okay, we better get out of here. I was thinking more rocks would be coming down," he said.

Doctors just took out 13 staples to fix a seven-inch cut on his head. He had surgery on his left arm which was broken, so a metal plate had to be inserted. His right earlobe had to be re-attached because another rock hit that side of his face.

"I felt the second rock, because it hit me really hard. I thought my jaw broke, because I have a big lump here," Recopuerto said.

He's been working for Aloha International Movers for 22 years and has never been hurt. He never imagined this would happen on the job. He has months of physical therapy before he goes back to work, but won't be able to lift anything heavy for a while.

But he says he still feels lucky that the boulder didn't land directly on top of him.

"If it landed directly, I wouldn't be here right now. I'd probably be paralyzed or dead," he said.

One of his coworkers was also hit by the large boulder, and taken to the hospital with a broken leg.

The other coworker had minor cuts and was treated at the scene.

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