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Sinkhole Swallows Corvettes at Museum

Thursday, February 20, 2014

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Engineers are working to secure the building and recover eight pricey Corvettes from the depths of a massive sinkhole that has opened beneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY.

No injuries were reported. The sinkhole, 40 feet across and 25 to 30 feet deep, opened up about 5:40 a.m. Feb. 12.

National Corvette Museum

A security camera captured the collapse, and a drone-mounted camera was later dispatched to survey the damage.

The incident, which occurred in the Sky Dome exhibit area of the Museum, was captured on a security camera. The footage shows the collapsing floor gobbling up the colorful classic cars, including the one millionth Corvette ever made.

Engineers have determined that the damage to the structure is repairable, the museum said. Drone helicopters, courtesy of Western Kentucky University, were sent into the Corvette-filled cavern to assess the situation.

Vehicles in Crater

In a release following the collapse, the museum listed the classic vehicles affected:

  • 1993 ZR-1 Spyder
  • 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil”
  • 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.

The first two cars were on loan from manufacturer General Motors; the museum owned the others.

Damage estimates are unofficial, but could total millions of dollars, reports said.

National Corvette Museum via Facebook

The one millionth Corvette ever built was among the fallen. The museum posted this photo on Facebook and invited captions.

“The vehicles at the National Corvette Museum are some of the most significant in automotive history,” according to Mark Reuss, executive vice president of General Motors Global Product Development.

“There can only be one 1-millionth Corvette ever built,” he said.

Once the vehicles are unearthed, Chevrolet will oversee the restoration at its Mechanical Assembly facility, a specialty shop within GM Design, in Warren, MI, officials said.

Recovery Process

The museum announced its “sinkhole game plan” Friday (Feb. 14) and has provided updates via Facebook notes.

The recovery plans include securing the sinkhole and surrounding areas, including the museum’s iconic red spire, so that any future sinkholes would not affect the facility. Sinkholes are said to be common in the area.

Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum

The incident occurred as preparations were underway for the museum's 20th anniversary celebration in August.

“It will take 2-3 weeks to stabilize and secure the area […] after which the process of vehicle recovery will begin,” according to the museum's statement. The recovery of the vehicles is expected to take four to six days.

Crews will add extra support to the building and remove a wall to make room for a crane that will be used to pull the cars out of the sinkhole, according to reports. Three of the cars near the top appear to be easily accessible, officials said.

Officials will also cut holes into the floor and fill them with concrete at key points for even more support, reports relate.

The National Corvette Museum is independently owned and is supported solely by charitable donations from enthusiasts. It is currently accepting donations on its website to assist in refurbishing the facility. The museum will celebrate its 20th anniversary in August.

Sinkholes caused issues in Florida last year, swallowing up a home and a resort.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Building design; Building envelope; Commercial Construction; Concrete; Disasters; Engineers; Floors; Health and safety

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