Related topics

Sinkholes Swallow Mobile Home, Porshe

November 12, 1987

ODESSA, Fla. (AP) _ Six people escaped injury when a sinkhole 30 feet deep opened up and swallowed a mobile home, officials said Wednesday.

The hole, discovered Tuesday evening, widened to more than 75 feet while a smaller one about 5 feet wide began nearby but seemed to stablize.

″The hole was just too deep. There’s not much we can do,″ Assistant Hillsborough Fire Chief Richard Grodrian said after legal papers and medicine were salvaged from the slowly sinking trailer.

Meanwhile, sheriff’s divers in Hudson plan to retrieve a 1981 Porsche that has sat in muck at the bottom of a sinkhole there for several years. The dive team plans to auction off the sports car to raise funds.

In Odessa, weary firefighters wrapped up a 14-hour shift Wednesday afternoon after they stood on the edge of the crater and manipulated ceiling hooks to pull clothes and other items from the trailer.

″I thought a tornado or a hurricane might have gotten it, but I never thought it would sink,″ said Winston Eden, 72, who has lived in the trailer since 1972. His family has moved in with relatives.

Eden was in the dining room Tuesday evening when he heard creaking noises and sent his daughter, Carol Geraldi, outside to check.

She discovered the growing sinkhole and noticed that a propane tank had disappeared into it. The family left the trailer.

Two tow trucks were dispatched to try to tug the home from the hole, but the trailer’s wooden frame began to rip apart as the winch on one of the trucks tightened, Grodrian said.

It is best to allow the sinkhole to settle, then assess the situation, he said.

In Hudson, officials say the Porshe 928 is in surprisingly good condition considering how long its been at the bottom of that sinkhole.

″Hopefully there’s not a body inside,″ said Pasco Deputy Ray Stewart. ″What happened to it is all a mystery.″

The flashy sports car with a Blue Book value of at least $20,000 is sitting upside down on a shelf 100 feet down inside the sinkhole.

Using airbags, divers plan to rescue the cream-colored car Nov. 20 and auction it immediately.

Sheriff’s divers learned about the Porsche last spring from local scuba divers who happened across it while diving. Officers photographed the license plate and said they traced the vehicle to a now-defunct auto leasing company in Tampa.

The leasing company was partly owned by Englander Toyota of Orlando, which had no record of the car and so gave it to the sheriff’s office, said Sgt. Charles Leonard.

Geologists say that as Florida’s population continues to increase and more underground water is used, sinkholes are likely to become more common.

Sinkholes form in areas where there are layers of limestone rock and water tables close to the surface. Caverns are slowly hollowed in the rock by water. During dry weather, underground water tables aren’t recharged, and when water is pumped from reserves, water tables fall.

This can produce cracks in the the limestone cavern rooftops. When heavy rains follow, water seeps through the cracks, weakening the roofs and causing them to collapse.

In May 1981, one of Florida’s largest sinkholes swallowed a municipal swimming pool, six cars, a house and several trees in Winter Park.

Update hourly