Woman badly injured in lava tour boat thought she was going to die

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The woman injured by a lava bomb on a tour boat remains in the hospital, unable to get out of bed, more than two weeks after it happened. 
      
With a long road to recovery, Jessica Tilton says she still doesn’t know when she can go home.

The 22-year-old Illinois resident was emotional talking about what happened. She said she remembers telling her family that they were getting dangerously close just before the lava bomb hit the boat.

“Everything just went black and you didn’t see anything. You just felt like you were suffocating and I thought I was dying,” she said.

Tilton was sitting closest to the railing, and says she leaned over to protect her sister sitting right next to her, when a lava rock about two feet in diameter hit her.

“I kept screaming my leg because my leg hurt. I heard the captain saying is anyone hurt, and my dad was saying my daughter, my daughter,” she said.

She’s grateful to those who helped, including two surgeons who were also sightseeing.

“There was a French surgeon who left his own sons that were injured,” said Rob Tilton, Jessica’s father.

“He was the nicest man ever. I cannot thank him enough, I don’t even remember his name. He was so nice, he was seriously the nicest man alive,” said Jessica.

She says it took over an hour for the boat to get back to shore, which to her, felt like forever.

“It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I was just so concerned that maybe these were going to be my last moments with my family,” she said.

She says she raised concerns about how close the boat was getting right before everything happened.

“It was too close for comfort for me personally. I said that to my sister, just was a little closer. I just thought it was a little close, Tilton said.

So now she a has long road to recovery with her leg broken in two places, as well as injuries to her hips and back. 

“It’s getting there, it’s a challenge every day, but you know, just using a lot of hope, just the goal of returning to normal life,” she said.

KHON2  reached out to the owner of the tour boat company, Lava Ocean Tours. He says he cannot say anything because there’s an investigation. We checked with the U.S. Coast Guard and we’re told that the investigation is still ongoing.

The Tiltons have hired attorney Honolulu Rick Fried. He’s asking for anyone who might have additional information to call his office at (808) 524-1433. 

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