Family recalls terrifying moment lava bomb struck tour boat in Hawaii

KTLA — A Redlands family on vacation in Hawaii on a boat tour on Monday when a huge chunk of molten rock from the Kilauea volcano struck the roof of the vessel.

The Li family said they had been mesmerized by views on the tour until the so-called lava bomb suddenly hit, puncturing the roof of their boat and injuring 23 people.

“The lava rock was about the size of two basketballs," said Kaming Li, the father. "It was still glowing as it was sitting on the floor of the boat.”

In video someone else on the boat captured of the moment, a loud crash is heard then all turns black amid terrified shrieks from those aboard the vessel.

One witness told CNN the boat was covered in rocks, and some of those who got off once it docked had burns and gashes on their legs. One person was taken from the scene on a stretcher.

“It was mayhem. You heard screaming and crying and just total — lava rock pelting us,” said Dawn Li, Kaming's wife.

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Lava erupts on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava flows through trees on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Lava flows through forest on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Gas erupts from a lava flow on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava flows past trees on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava flows through forest on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 20: A lava fountain from a Kilauea volcano fissure erupts, while forming a new cone, on Hawaii's Big Island on May 20, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 19: Residents view lava erupting from a Kilauea volcano fissure, at a small viewing party on a neighbor's porch, on Hawaii's Big Island on May 19, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. Some local residents have held small viewing parties to view lava. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 19: A bird rests on a wire as lava from a Kilauea volcano fissure erupts on Hawaii's Big Island on May 19, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 19: Lava from a Kilauea volcano fissure flows on Hawaii's Big Island on May 19, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 19: A young resident keeps an eye on lava from a Kilauea volcano fissure erupting and flowing near her home on Hawaii's Big Island on May 19, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: A man takes a photo of a lava fountain from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: Lava erupts and flows from a Kilauea volcano fissure as trees burn on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: Lava erupts and flows from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: Lava erupts and flows from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: Lava erupts and flows from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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At least a dozen people were treated at a nearby hospital and released Monday. Kaming, a doctor, said he assisted one woman in her 20s was in serious condition with a fractured femur after tending to his family.

“Of course it was just a lot of injuries," Kaming said. "A lot of burns, a lot of abrasions. It was pretty chaotic when it hit.”

The Li’s son Christopher’s leg calf has been bandaged to cover second- and third-degree burns. “I sustained burns to the side of my calf, as well as shins,” he explained.

Christopher said he felt the boat was getting dangerously close to the volcano remembers mentioning this concern to his sister seconds before he saw an explosion.

On Tuesday, the Coast Guard extended the required safety zone surrounding active lava flows in response to the incident.

The Li family, meanwhile, said they would still stay and finish their summer vacation in Hawaii before returning to the Inland Empire at the end of the week.

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