Storms pummel Utah


    By Sherylin McMurtrey

    Landon Densley was in his parent?s home on 1550 East in Provo when he heard thundering and crashing coming from the back of the house.

    The whole ground was shaking, he said, and he ran outside to see a hailstorm of rocks rumbling down the mountainside.

    ?I ran into the back yard, and there were about 30 boulders crashing down through the trees,? he said.

    Awestruck, he said he picked up his phone and dialed his father, Steve Densley, executive director of the Provo-Orem Chamber of Commerce, to tell what he had just witnessed.

    ?Then I ran behind my house to see if they hit any of the other houses,? Densley said. ?There were five boulders that came down and stopped within about 30 feet of the houses. The big one didn?t stop until it went through the chalet and hit a pine tree.?

    A massive 8- to 9-foot boulder, along with several smaller ones, broke loose from Y Mountain about two blocks north of block Y around 5 p.m. Thursday.

    ?I went to investigate the house, and as I got close, I could see the windows falling out and shattering,? he said.

    The Peterson?s, who are renting the home, were not present at the time of the accident. Duncan Peterson and his wife had decided two days earlier to not buy the home and this incident only cemented their decision.

    Peterson said there is no way they would reconsider their decision about the home, and they would be looking to purchase a home elsewhere in Utah County.

    Provo police Capt. Richard Healey, speaking at the scene of the accident, said, ?We?ve had some boulders fall before, but never one that hit a home.?

    He said the continual freezing and thawing of moisture between the rocks probably contributed to the rockslide.

    Healey said there?s nothing anyone could do to prepare for a situation like this.

    ?The only way to be prepared for something like this is to not live here,? he said.

    Provo City Fire Chief Coy Porter said the home?s gas was shut off and all other security precautions were taken in order to ensure everyone?s safety.

    ?The boulder was as big as an SUV,? Porter said. ?The rock split apart into two pieces, they were both about the same size.?

    LDS Church ward members clamored to see if the Peterson?s were injured. As part of that, Densley, who is Peterson?s home teacher, said the boulder was sort of an answer to a prayer.

    ?I wanted to thank you for the blessing the other night,? Peterson was overheard telling Densley. ?When you said the Lord would make the decision very clear on whether or not we should buy the house, I didn?t know this is what He meant.?

    Gov. Huntsman pledged his support to Provo City Mayor Lewis K. Billings and said the state would send a state geological survey team come out and analyze the area to see if there are any other immediate threats or if there are any precautions that can be taken, and said he would continue to follow up with fall-out problems.

    One bystander asked Porter what he thought they were going to do with the boulder.

    ?They?re probably going to put a few flowers around it and call it good,? he said jokingly.

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