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4:29 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Surprise Pothole Claims 8 Vintage Corvettes

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 3:44 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In the pre-dawn hours this morning in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the earth suddenly opened up and swallowed eight classic cars, eight Corvettes. It was at the National Corvette Museum. Staff were alerted by the security company, which noticed motion detectors going off at the museum and they arrived to find a hole some 40 feet across and some 30 feet deep, a sinkhole.

Katie Frassinelli is communications manager at the Corvette Museum. Welcome to the program.

KATIE FRASSINELLI: Thank you.

SIEGEL: And what does it look like?

FRASSINELLI: Massive. It is quite scary, too. The ground has fallen away and there's still some of the floor of the building that's jutting out with no ground underneath. And we have a few cars that we're still working to save.

SIEGEL: Now, of the cars that fell into the sinkhole, are there any that are especially treasured by the museum and that were especially hard to see go down that way?

FRASSINELLI: Oh, gosh, yes. We had two that were on loan from General Motors. One in particular is 1993 ZR-1 Spyder. All of the people that worked on that car at the Bowling Green assembly plant right across the street from the museum signed under it. And then two other really significant ones: we had the 1 millionth Corvette and the 1.5 millionth Corvette that were also part of them that were lost.

SIEGEL: What was the oldest Corvette that fell into the sinkhole?

FRASSINELLI: 1962 black Corvette. It was recently donated. And my favorite thing about it, I guess, is they called the owner the weatherman. He saved up all his money when he was in high school and bought that car. And so anytime it looked like it was going to rain, he would quick, hurry home and put the car in the garage.

SIEGEL: Are you confident that the ground that remains in the museum is going to stay firm or could the sinkhole expand?

FRASSINELLI: Well, we have a team of structural engineers and then some karst specialists from Western Kentucky University. They have a drone helicopter that they are flying into the sinkhole to just kind of see what's going on with the Earth.

SIEGEL: Some people might have heard you say car experts, but you said karst experts.

FRASSINELLI: Karst, yes, as in geology.

SIEGEL: And that's what gave here is the karst?

FRASSINELLI: Yes.

SIEGEL: What is the operation going to be like to get the Corvettes out of the hole? How will you lift them out?

FRASSINELLI: That is something that we hope to learn within the coming days.

SIEGEL: I mean, obviously, there's going to have to be some kind of crane or something to pull them out, unless you're just going to bury this cache of Corvettes under the Earth, which is a terrible thing to do.

FRASSINELLI: I know. But I've even been to other museums where they have kind of a plexi over a portion of it to where you can see down into the Earth.

SIEGEL: Oh, you mean turn it into an exhibit.

FRASSINELLI: I know.

SIEGEL: Oh, so you can look at the place where the Corvettes fell into the sinkhole.

FRASSINELLI: I will put that into the suggestion box, for sure.

SIEGEL: Well, Ms. Frassinelli, thanks a lot for talking with us today.

FRASSINELLI: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's Katie Frassinelli. She's at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where a sinkhole swallowed up eight cars, eight Corvettes this morning. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.