Darryl Clinton seemed confident in his lava-dodging abilities Friday as he showed reporters how to avoid chunks of molten rock spewing from a fissure near homes in the Pahoa area of Hawaii's Big Island. Given the arcing trajectory of the rock, "it's almost like catching a football, but you don't want to catch this football," he told CNN. A day later, however, he briefly took his eye off the ball. While chatting on a cell phone on a balcony of a neighbor's home he was defending from the lava, Clinton was hit with a flying lava bomb that broke two bones in his leg and left his ankle hanging "like a hinge," reports NBC News. "'That didn't just happen' was my first thought," he now says, per CNN. "I knew it was real because of the pain … It was the most extreme force I ever felt in my life."
While a neighbor put out flames from the lava bomb—launched as "a direct line-drive," according to Clinton, rather than the more typical arc—he was rushed to a hospital, where he remained Tuesday. "I thought I was gonna bleed out," he says, though his ex-wife tells CNN the scalding rock may have actually cauterized his wound. Still, the California native, who has lived in Hawaii for 12 years, won't be able to put weight on his injured leg, fitted with a metal rod, for at least six weeks, per KHON. But like most Hawaiians, Clinton isn't complaining. "For the most part, we've enjoyed the whole time—front row seats to every aspect of a lava flow you can imagine," he says about his quest to defend homes. "It's just been amazing." (Thanks to the Kilauea volcano, Hawaii is also battling a toxic steam cloud.)