Golfer Sinkhole; Mark Mihal Swallowed By 18-foot Chasm In Illinois

on March 13, 2013 11:54 AM EDT

golfer sinkhole
A golfer fell into a sinkhole in Illinois. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A golfer sinkhole trapped Illinois golfer Mark Mihal while he was playing a round at the the Annbriar Golf Course on Monday. As Mihal walked the fairway on the 14th hole an 18-foot sinkhole suddenly opened up beneath him. The golfer sinkhole did not seriously injure Mihal, but he suffered a dislocated shoulder after falling nearly two stories.

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"I felt the ground start to collapse and it happened so fast that I couldn't do anything," Mihal told the LA Times. "I reached for the ground as I was going down and it gave way, too. It seemed like I was falling for a long time. The real scary part was I didn't know when I would hit bottom and what I would land on."  

The golfer sinkhole was, fortunately, not so deep that Mihal couldn't be rescued by his friends and golf course personnel. They used a rope stashed in the clubhouse to pull Mihal to safety.

"I feel lucky just to come out of it with a shoulder injury, falling that far and not knowing what I was going to hit," Mihal told The Associated Press. "It was absolutely crazy."

Annbriar general manager Russ Nobbe described the golfer sinkhole as "an extremely unfortunate event, an event we feel is an act of nature. We don't feel there is any way we could have foreseen this happening," he told a Tuesday news conference.

According to Wikipedia, "sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone or other carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by circulating ground water. As the rock dissolves, spaces and caverns develop underground. These sinkholes can be dramatic, because the surface land usually stays intact until there is not enough support. Then, a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur."

The golfer sinkhole isn't the only sinkhole to be making news lately.

A Florida sinkhole swallowed a sleeping man on March 7 after it suddenly opened up beneath his bedroom. Jeffrey Bush disappeared into the Florida sinkhole and his brother, Jeremy, told first responders that he heard a loud crash, and then a scream, but when he got to his brother's room everything inside had been swallowed by the Florida sinkhole.

"When he got there, there was no bedroom left," Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico told reporters. "There was no furniture. All he saw was a piece of the mattress sticking up."

There may be even more golfer sinkholes on the way for Illinois residents. Sam Panno, a senior geochemist with the Illinois State Geological Survey, told the AP that the region where Annbriar is located "is riddled with sinkholes," with as many as 15,000 recorded.

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