Husband reflects on house-crashing boulder, wife’s close call; future of the rock

View from a Foremaster Ridge of a large boulder that smashed into the back of a St. George home located beneath the hill, St. George, Utah, Jan. 21, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A St. George woman was given a rude awakening early Saturday morning when a boulder the size of a truck smashed into the back of her home and crushing into the bed in which she was sleeping.

Rude Awakening

A large boulder that smashed into the Denhalter home, situated beneath Foremaster Ridge, St. George, Utah, Jan. 21, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Recapping in part St. George News’ earlier story: The St. George Communications Center received a call at 2 a.m., Saturday, from Wanda Lee Denhalter who said she needed medical attention. In a state of shock at the time, her husband, Scot Denhalter said, she hadn’t realized a boulder had smashed into a corner of their home and injured her.

The Denhalters’ home is on South Acantilado Drive, which is located in a subdivision situated along the bottom of the eastern slope of Foremaster Ridge. A large boulder above became loose and rolled downhill, smashing into the residence below.

“She had no idea what had happened,” Scot Denhalter said. He said his wife only realized the extent of what had happened after EMTs who transported her to Intermountain Southwest Region’s Dixie Regional Medical Center showed her photos of the boulder, which they had taken with their phones.

The bedroom the boulder that smashed into, St. George, Utah, Jan. 21, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The impact of the boulder left Wanda Lee Denhalter with a broken jaw, broken sternum and an injured leg. Despite the injuries, Scot said his wife is doing well, though her sternum is “the main issue.” Anything that requires chest movement is causing her discomfort, he said.

Scot Denhalter also said that if things had been slightly different his wife would have been killed. For one, he wasn’t home that night. Instead, he was spending the night at a son’s home. This allowed his wife to roll into the middle of their bed, he said. If she hadn’t, she would have been crushed by the boulder.

“It’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to her,” he said.

What’s next?

The Boulder will remain a part of the home for now, Scot Denhalter said. The Denhalters, who have been renting the property and moved in only a month ago are now residing in a hotel and may be for at least the next two weeks as they decide what to do next.

“I’d love to stay in the area,” he said. “I’d love to stay in the house.”

Scot Denhalter said he and his wife love the house, but before returning to the home – provided that is still an option in the future – he would like to know what the City of St. George may do concerning the ridge above them.

“I’d like to get some assurances,” he said. If no action is taken by the city however,  he said, “I don’t want to live here.”

“I think this is a problem the city hasn’t addressed for far too long,” he added.

Scot Denhalter also said he wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of moving again. “I’d rather have my nail clipped in a Cuisinart than move again,” he said.

So the boulder will stay put for the immediate future. Scot Denhalter said the evacuators who inspected the damage told him the cheapest way to remove the boulder was to break it apart and wheel it out bit by bit. He added that the property owner was being required by insurance to get at least three estimates on the rock removal before any commitments are made.

View of a Foremaster Ridge of a large boulder that smashed into the back of a St. George home located beneath the hill, St. George, Utah, Jan. 21, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

As for the house, it has yet to be determined if the foundation has been cracked, or the roof has been sufficiently compromised before an estimate on the total costs of the incident can be made.

“I can tell you it’ll be pretty huge,” Scot Denhalter said.

He said he wouldn’t mind the idea of simply rolling the boulder out of the way and leaving it in the back yard, or even leaving it in place and building around it.

“I’d have a nice yard souvenir,” he said. “Less lawn to mow too.”


A large boulder that smashed into the Denhalter home, situated beneath Foremaster Ridge, St. George, Utah, Jan. 21, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Related Post

Woman rudely awakened after boulder remodels corner of home


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  • Amy Heer January 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    And they still want to live there? Wait until an earthquake hits. Maybe they will come to their senses.

  • Nikneb January 21, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    He’d rather have his nail clipped in a Cuisinart? What?!
    Lucky lady. . .
    Why is this the city’s fault anyway? The city has no control over nature.
    Personally. . . I’d rather have my nail clipped in a Cuisinart then live under a cliff with falling rocks.

  • What a Moron January 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    So what is the city going to do? Yes, it must be the city’s fault. Um, how about don’t build or live in a house up against a cliff where rocks can fall on you.

  • Annettie Cannavale January 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    They are very lucky for two reasons:

    1. Obviously, the woman could have been injured much worse or killed
    2. They are renting and can just walk away from this.

    Scary stuff but a good ending all in all.

  • DoubleTap January 22, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Sounds like Fred Flintstone forgot to set the parking brake on his rockmobile. But glad the lady is going to be ok.

  • Utesmax January 22, 2013 at 10:22 am

    A crazy place to live, no doubt–just like South Bluff Street. But as long as development-happy St. George allows greedy developers to carve a few more building lots out of the hills, there will be more of this. Sometimes people just need to be protected from their own bad judgment.

  • Poprocks January 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Assuming that most people are as naive as I am… If I were the person who built or rented there, I would have assumed that since the CITY issued the building permit, that the CITY must have done a thorough inspection and decided it was safe to build there. I guess that these people should have gotten themselves a degree in geology before moving there?

    • Snowfield January 26, 2013 at 11:11 am

      People from out of the area frequently do make that assumption, at their own peril. Utah is a free for all, you’re on your own and you will just be jeered at if your house falls off the cliff where it never should have been built in the first place. Unfortunately, locals will not always be forthcoming about where the dangers lie and even threaten lawsuits now and then against anyone “defaming” their development, damaging house values.

  • Tom Smith January 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Has anyone looked at the boulder field and the cap rock above new shopping mall on the other side of Foremaster Ridge, across the street from the Village Inn on River Road. It appears that building permits can be obtained by anybody to build anywhere they want to in Washington County. Look at the northeast side of Nichols Peak in Washington City. Look at the mansions east of the new Sullivan Park in Washington City. Nothing more can be said about the messes above Bluff Street

  • NoDak January 25, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Found where the rock was on google maps satellite hahah !…..


  • Dan Lester January 25, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    What the Haynes had it right on this topic. If you don’t want rocks rolling down on you, don’t live where they can do that. Same for floods and other stuff. Remember, after the 05 floods on the Santa Clara, people who lost houses went back and built in the same place. Gee, guess what happened in 12? Gee, the water came back and flooded them again. Duuuuhhhhhh…..

    For those who don’t know it, mountains (including bluffs, mesas, hills, etc.) have ONE job to do. Their job is to FALL DOWN. And they will all fall down. It is just a question of which pieces of them will fall down and when.

  • Jasmine January 26, 2013 at 1:04 am

    This rock is FAMOUS, putting STG even more on the map!! It’s been shown on networks nationwide from The Weather Channel to CNN Lol!!

  • Big @$$ Bob January 26, 2013 at 1:14 am

    People in Florida be prepared for hurricanes. People in Cali be prepared for earthquakes. People on coasts be prepared for tsunamis, floods, hurricanes…People in Chicago be prepared for tornadoes and ice storms. People in Salt Lake City be prepared for inversions where the air you breathe will kill you. People in St. George, UT be prepared for falling boulders, floods in flood plains and idiotic, greedy developers with no common sense willing to urbanize anywhere at any cost……..

  • conflitced_gurl January 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Have the police thoroughly investigated the boulder situation? Is there ANY chance it was dislodged intentionally???

    • conflicted_gurl January 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      Is there any history of domestic problems? The husband just happened to be at his son’s house when this happened. Possibly because of an argument earlier in the evening?……. hmmmmmmm

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