Thursday, 19 March 2015

Elderly woman dies after falling into sinkhole in Louisville, Kentucky.

An elderly woman has died after falling into a sinkhole in the Pleasure Ridge Park district of Louisville, Kentucky at about 7.30 pm local time on Tuesday 17 March 2015. Dorothy Brown, 73, was walking her dog in her backyard when a hole a meter wide and six meters deep opened up beneath her. Workers from the Pleasure Ridge Park Fire District spent several hours trying to dig Mrs Parker out, but were unable to rescue her alive; she was sitting in about a meter of water when found and had a cracked skull and several broken ribs, leading to fears that she drowned within the hole.

A fire department vehicle at the home of Mrs Dorothy Brown during attempts to rescue her from a sinkhole on 17 March 2015. WDRB.

Sinkholes are generally caused by water eroding soft limestone or unconsolidated deposits from beneath, causing a hole that works its way upwards and eventually opening spectacularly at the surface. Where there are unconsolidated deposits at the surface they can infill from the sides, apparently swallowing objects at the surface, including people, without trace. Potash, a potassium salt, is readily soluble and can be dissolved quickly if water gains access to deposits, leading to the rapid formation of sinkholes.

The approximate location of the 17 March 2015 Louisville sinkhole. Google Maps.

On this occasion the sinkhole is understood to have formed over a disused septic tank which had been improperly filled in by a contractor. The district moved from septic tanks to a mains sewerage system in 2000, but residents were obliged to find their own contractors to deal with the old septic tanks. There are now concerns that other tanks in the district may have been improperly filled.

See also...

An apartment block in the West Town area of Chicago, Illinois, has been evacuated after a sinkhole opened up next to it in the early hours of the morning on Friday...

Three people have been treated for injuries after a car fell into a sinkhole near Burlington in Kane County, Illinois, at about 4.00 am...

A car carrying four passengers was swallowed by a sinkhole in Evansville in southern Indiana on Friday 30 May 2014. Timothy Stone, his girlfriend and their two children had stopped at a junction when they felt the car beginning to sink. All four were able to...

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