January 23, 2013 in Nation/World

Sleeping woman hit by boulder, survives

Associated Press
 

SALT LAKE CITY – A southern Utah woman is badly injured but grateful to be alive after a boulder the size of a small car broke free from a cliff above her house, crashed through her bedroom wall, and hit her like a “giant fist” while she slept, her husband said Tuesday.

Wanda Denhalter has to eat out of a straw because her broken jaw is wired shut, and it’s painful to laugh, cough, blow her nose or sit up because of a broken sternum, said her husband, Scot Denhalter.

The 63-year-old woman also has three layers of stitches on a gash that stretches from her knee to her ankle, he said. But considering how close she came to being crushed to death, she’s feeling blessed, he said.

“She’s definitely lucky, no doubt about it,” Scot Denhalter said. “She’s very grateful.”

Wanda Denhalter was sleeping alone Saturday at 3 a.m. in the middle of a king-size bed when a 12-by-9-foot boulder came barreling through the wall of her St. George home, after breaking off from a cliff above the house, Scot Denhalter said. He was sleeping at his son’s house to make room for visitors who never arrived.

“Had I been there, she would have been killed,” said Scot Denhalter, 62, a teacher at Dixie State College. “She would have been on her side of the bed.”

Though Wanda Denhalter survived, the boulder did plenty of damage. She was in surgery for four hours at the St. George hospital, as doctors stitched up a gash that went to the bone.

Wanda Denhalter doesn’t remember much about what happened, but her husband has pieced together the facts by looking at pictures and examining the area near, around and above the house.

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