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Rockfall unnerves townhouse residents

    Contractors shore up a townhouse complex that was struck by a huge rock.
    No one was home when a boulder hit support pillars yesterday on a complex at 380 Kawaihae St. in Hawaii Kai.

Hawaii Kai resident Alison Tanigawa said she was shocked when a boulder struck two concrete tile pillars near her townhouse over the weekend.

She said her husband plays ball with her son in the area where the large rock landed after rolling down the hillside Sunday.

"It’s just really alarming," she said.

Contractors from Hawaii Engineering Group Inc. shored up the unit at 380 Kawaihae St. at the Kawaihae Crescent West subdivision yesterday.

The boulder, about 4 feet in diameter, apparently grazed one pillar, knocking off one of the parking lot lights, then struck a second pillar, damaging the concrete and exposing rebar.

There were no injuries.

Officials from Kamehameha Schools and Kawaihae Crescent West Association conducted a site assessment yesterday but were unable to find out where the boulder fell from. Kamehameha Schools and the association share ownership of the hillside.

"We are thankful no one was hurt in this incident," said Kamehameha Schools spokesman Kekoa Paulsen.

Paulsen said they contacted the association’s property manager, Hawaiiana Management Co., which is working with their insurance carrier to address the matter.

"We will know better what our next steps will be as more information about this incident becomes available," he said in a written statement. Officials from Hawaiiana Management could not be reached for comment.

Darin Shigeta, owner of the affected townhouse, was not home at the time of the incident, about 7:20 p.m. Sunday.

He and his wife, Charise, stood in the parking lot yesterday, thankful no one was hurt.

"It could’ve been much worse," he said. "We got lucky."

Shigeta said he normally parks his Isuzu Rodeo in the stall where the boulder came to rest. His wife usually parks her Nissan Rogue in a stall next to the other pillar that was grazed by the rock.

The couple is staying at another home.

Tanigawa, who lives in the next building, said her husband called Shigeta Sunday when the rockfall occurred. She said she first heard a rumbling, followed by two crashing sounds.

"It was really scary," said the mother of a 2-week-old girl and a 3-year-old boy.

Longtime neighbors in the subdivision said boulders have fallen in the past, at least twice within the last 25 years.

At a nearby subdivision, Lalea, residents were displaced for almost a year after boulders crashed into two vehicles in November 2002. Developer Castle & Cooke and landowner Kamehameha Schools offered housing arrangements to affected residents until contractors installed protective netting to the hillside.

Five years later another boulder fell in the subdivision from a cliff face that did not have protective netting. There were no injuries.


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