UPDATED: 8 Vehicles Swallowed by Sinkhole at National Corvette Museum

More Video...
By  | 

UPDATED 7:15 PM -- "This is a big one. For the last 22 years I've been involved in the repair and the rehabilitation of sinkholes. I've done a lot of small ones and I've done a lot of big ones. This is one of the biggest," said Matthew Dettman of the WKU Civil Engineering Department.

That sinkhole located in the sky dome of the National Corvette Museum is 30 feet deep and 40 feet. 8 cars in all fell down the shaft, including the 1 millionth Corvette ever made.

"It's a common occurrence to have sinkholes in this type of landscape. As far as when they happen and what's going to happen with this one I couldn't actually say," commented WKU geologist, Jason Polk.

Geological experts with WKU said when the structure was built 20 years ago it's possible there was no sinkhole. Since that time it could've grown at a very rapid rate.

Two of the cars were on lease from GM, while the other 6 were owned by the museum. After the structure was deemed safe, the race was on to move the rest of the cars out of the sky dome.

"Every car has a story behind it. It touches your heart when you think of the people behind those cars. There's been tears shed back there this morning. We'll share that with you as well," said National Corvette Museum Executive Director, Wendell Strode during an afternoon press conference.

Almost all of the cars have been removed from the structure. Officials said it's too early to decide the fate of the sky dome, but spirits are optimistic.

"We have our 20th anniversary coming up in late August and we're hoping to be full business and going full guns at that time."

The museum is scheduled to be open on Thursday.

UPDATED 2:29 PM -- Security footage has been released that shows the early stages of the sinkhole developing, engulfing the first to cars. Remote-controlled copter cam footage has also been released. This footage is being used by the structural engineers to evaluate damage and structural integrity.

UPDATED 12:10 PM -- According to the National Corvette Museum's Facebook page, they will resume normal business hours tomorrow, Thursday Feb. 13, from 8a.m. to 5p.m. following the emergence of a large sinkhole in their sky dome earlier Wednesday. The sky dome will remain blocked off until further notice.

UPDATED 10:45 AM -- Few people have been allowed inside the sky dome at the National Corvette Museum since a sinkhole emerged early Wednesday morning, and one of them was the museum director Wendell Strode, who arrived at work to the devastating scene.

"Where we had Corvettes, there's now a big hole," said Strode.

WBKO was able to capture still images from the National Corvette Museum's live web stream inside before it went off-line when the sinkhole knocked out power where the hole can be seen. Strode says it is about 30 ft. deep and 40 ft. wide. Strode says Eight cars were swallowed by the hole, six of them owned by the museum, and two on loan from General Motors. Strode says 20 to 25 cars still remain unharmed inside the sky dome.

"The fire department did allow us to remove the 1983," said Strode.

That 1983 model is the only of its kind in the world, and due to it's location at the dome's entrance, it has been the only car the fire department has allowed the museum to remove due to safety concerns. One WKU professor specializing in the study of sinkholes says sinkholes are not uncommon in our area.

"It's definitely well known to have sinkhole occurrences throughout this area of Kentucky, and other places in the southeastern U.S. The sinkhole is pretty typical. The atypical thing is that it occurred within the Corvette Museum," said WKU Geography and Geology professor Jason Polk.

Polk was one of the other few people allowed inside the dome to view the hole. He says determining the cause of the sinkhole will require more investigation.

"Different things trigger them. We've had alot of rain recently. It's been a really wet winter. So that type of thing is something that could be a contributing factor, but I just can't say for sure right now," said Polk.

Structural engineers will determine more about what will come of the building. As a precaution, Strode says they have closed the museum today to visitors as structural engineers assess the situation, but it will reopen Thursday under normal business hours.

For more on the cars that fell in the sinkhole, see the previous stories below, and for more information on sinkholes in Bowling Green. See the related link for the city of Bowling Green.

UPDATED 10:20 AM -- Katie Frassinelli, Marketing and Communications Manager for the National Corvette Museum, confirms that the structrual engineer from Clarksville, TN is on location and investiagting the damage and structural integrity.

The engineer is not available for comment, and no statement will be made until the investigation is completed.

Frassinelli expressed her grattitude that the incident occured after hours while no one was in the Sky Dome.

With over 5,000 Corvette enthusiasts from all over the world already pre-registered for the 20th celebration August 27th-30th, she expressed shared emotion for the historcal, irreplaceable pieces damaged and potentially lost.

UPDATED 9:00 AM -- Confirmed list of Corvettes that have fallen into the sinkhole. This list is from the Corvette Museum.

1993 ZR-1 Spyder on loan from General Motors
2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” on loan from General Motors

The other six vehicles were owned by the National Corvette Museum including:

1962 Black Corvette
1984 PPG Pace Car
1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette
1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette
2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette
2009 White 1.5 Millionth Corvette

UPDATED 8:20 AM -- Bowling Green city spokeswoman Kim Lancaster says the hole opened up at about 5:40 AM, setting off an alarm and a call to the fire department.

The Sky Dome area is an original part of the facility for which construction began in 1992 and was completed in 1994.

Lancaster says information is still being gathered about what exactly happened, but this appears to be the first incident of its kind at the property.

No injuries have been reported.

UPDATED 7:40 AM -- It has been confirmed that 8 vehicles were swallowed by a sinkhole at the Sky Dome at the National Corvette Museum. The sinkhole is estimated to be around 40 feet wide and 20-30 feet deep.

The Museum is open for the day, although the Sky Dome area will remain closed. No one is being allowed into the Sky Dome area, including employees, until the integrity of the structure is investigated further.

A structural engineer will be advising the Museum on how to proceed.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Our Melissa Warren is on scene at the National Corvette Museum where there are reports of flashing lights and a collapsed floor within the dome area.

We will bring you more information as it becomes available.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus