Lava rocks crash Portland couple's vacation

Erin Walsh and Will Bryan had a close call Monday when a lava bomb crashed into the roof of their boat off the Big Island of Hawaii. (KATU Photo)

A lot of us have a bucket list, and for a local couple, seeing lava from Mount Kilauea up close was high on that list. But as it turned out, it wasn’t the memory they were hoping for.

Will Bryan and Erin Walsh just got back from what was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime. The Portland couple was on a lava tour boat Monday when a lava bomb came crashing into the roof of their boat.

“The sky went completely black, and after that it was just panic from everybody. You hear all the screams,” said Bryan.

“I just ran towards the center of the boat and got down, but I was just getting covered with stuff. I really thought I wouldn’t be able to see,” Walsh said.

Their boat slowly made it back to the Big Island.

“I remember looking around, and no one was really speaking,” Bryan said. “It was just one of those somber moments. Everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, I almost died.’”

Bryan and Walsh feel lucky, having escaped with only a few scrapes and burns. They agree it wasn’t ideal, but it came close.

“I wish I didn’t have the story to tell, but seeing lava right up until 10 seconds before the explosion, it was beautiful. So yeah, I guess it was worth it,” Bryan said.

Hawaii officials said they were never consulted by the U.S. Coast Guard about these tours. The Coast Guard has now extended the safety zone to no less than a thousand feet from the lava flows.

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