A prompting saves David O. McKay and others from certain death
This incident is detailed by Virginia Budd Jacobsen.
It happened in 1921, while President McKay and Elder Hugh Cannon were making a tour of the missions of the world. After a day of inspiring conference meetings in Hilo, Hawaii, a night trip to the Kilauea volcano was arranged for the visiting brethren and some of the missionaries. About nine o’clock that evening, two carloads, about ten of us, took off for the then very active volcano.
We stood on the rim of that fiery pit watching Pele in her satanic antics, our backs chilled by the cold winds sweeping down from snowcapped Mauna Loa and our faces almost blistered by the heat of the molten lava. Tiring of the cold, one of the elders discovered a volcanic balcony about four feet down inside the crater where observers could watch the display without being chilled by the wind. It seemed perfectly sound, and the “railing” on the open side of it formed a fine protection from intense heat, making it an excellent place to view the spectacular display.
After first testing its safety, Brother McKay and three of the elders climbed down into the hanging balcony. As they stood there warm and comfortable, they teased the others of us more timid ones who had hesitated to take advantage of the protection they had found. For quite some time we all watched the ever-changing sight as we alternately chilled and roasted.
After being down there in their protected spot for some time, suddenly Brother McKay said to those with him, “Brethren, I feel impressed that we should get out of here.”
With that he assisted the elders to climb out, and then they in turn helped him up to the wind-swept rim. It seems incredible, but almost immediately the whole balcony crumbled and fell with a roar into the molten lava a hundred feet or so below.
It is easy to visualize the feelings of those who witnessed this terrifying experience. Not a word was said—the whole thing was too awful, with all that word means. The only sound was the hiss and roar of Pele, the fire goddess of old Hawaii, screaming her disappointment.
None of us, who were witnesses of this experience could ever doubt the reality of “revelation in our day”! Some might say it was merely inspiration, but to us it was a direct revelation given to a worthy man.
David O. McKay, Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955), pp. 55-56.