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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:30 a.m., Friday, August 30, 2002

Crew breaks up boulder above Henry Street

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Sloppy weather in Nu'uanu today may prevent workers from removing the last chunks of a potentially hazardous boulder, but Henry Street residents below are out of harm's way, said an attorney representing the land owner.
Pieces of a boulder that could have crashed through the same home where Dara Onishi was killed will be removed.

Photo courtesy of Steve Hisaka

The squarish, 3-foot-tall boulder weighed an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 pounds before workers with Royal Construction broke it into pieces this week, said Steve Hisaka, the attorney representing the Pacific Heights couple who own the land where the boulder was found.

If it had fallen, the boulder would have most likely crashed through the same home where Dara Onishi was killed Aug. 9 when a 5-ton boulder rolled off the valley wall and into her bedroom, Hisaka said.

The second boulder was discovered about a week after Onishi was killed. As a precaution, O'ahu Civil Denfense officials warned about 30 residents on Henry Street that the boulder could come down.

The Royal Construction workers, who have to hike about 200 feet up the valley wall from Henry Street, believe they have located the spot where the first boulder came from and say it is "a few yards" from the second boulder, Hisaka said.

He would not say, however, if the first boulder came from his clients' property.

Hisaka said the second boulder was broken into flat, rectangular pieces that sit squarely on the ground.

"I've been told there is no danger of these pieces falling down the hill," Hisaka said. "We want these guys to just do a good job and finish the job."

Rain in the area over the last few days have made a difficult job even harder, Hisaka said.

"Because it has been raining at different times, it has been impossible to get a work crew up there to finish the job," he said. "The location of this boulder is almost on a vertical cliff face. When the workers are up there working they are actually secured by ropes."

Workers used an electric drill with a long extension cord plugged into an outlet in the Onishi home to bore holes into the boulder, Hisaka said. A chemical that expands when it hardens was poured into the holes, causing the rock to fracture, Hisaka said.

O'ahu Civil Defense Acting Administrator Doug Aton said there are no plans to notify area residents that the boulder is gone. The original flier was a precautionary warning recommended by Hisaka, Aton said.

"We don't know the extent of the hazard because the geologist was hired by the private attorney," Aton said. "We felt an obligation to tell people on behalf of the property owner above that there was another boulder."

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.