Survivor describes ‘powerful and hot’ impact of lava bomb

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A Hawaii island man injured by what officials called a lava bomb spoke from his hospital bed Tuesday.

Darryl Clinton remains at Hilo Medical Center, but he’s alive, smiling, and even wiggling his toes. 

Originally from California, Clinton tells us he’s lived in his Kapoho home for 12 wonderful years.

Last week, he says, his home provided a front-row seat to a spectacle he could have never have imagined. 

“It was incredible. It was an event of a lifetime. Every aspect of the lava was there. The sounds, the sites, the flowing lava, the aa, the fissures, it was all happening at one time,” he said.

Clinton says he was on the roof of a home, helping to put out fires caused by flying rocks, when an explosion a couple hundred yards away launched a lava bomb that hit him above the ankle.

It nearly sheared his leg in half.

“It was the most forceful impact I’ve ever had on my body in my life,” Clinton said. “I’ve been hit by big waves and various things. That was just incredibly powerful and hot. It burned.”

Clinton says a friend wrapped a sheet around his leg, dragged him down five flights of stairs, and called for help.

“It was super painful and I don’t know if I was in shock,” Clinton said. “I just think about my daughters, and I knew I was up on that roof and I was in really bad shape. My leg was in half, my bone was sticking out. There was blood squirting out.”

Doctors were able to save his leg, but he must stay off of it for six weeks.

“The doctors did an amazing job. I can’t believe they put it back together. I thought it was – I just wanted to live. I didn’t care if they cut my leg off down there or not,” Clinton said.

One thing he still can’t, or doesn’t want to do yet, is follow the latest on the eruption.

“I’m good on the lava, yeah,” he said.

Clinton says he’s not sure how long he’ll remain in the hospital, but he does say he plans on returning to his home in Kapoho.

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