In the two weeks since a sinkhole killed a man in Florida, two new sinkholes have received a significant amount of press. One was reported in Washington D.C., but who cares; it was relatively small and no one was injured. The other one occurred Friday, when Mark Mihal fell into an 18-foot sinkhole during a round of golf with his friends in southern Illinois.
Mihal was on the 14th hole at Annbriar Golf Club when he noticed an unusual, bathtub-sized indention in the ground. Joking to his friends about what it would be like to hit a shot from it, the 43-year-old stepped onto the sunken spot, and wham, fell 18-feet through the ground.
"It didn't look unstable," he said. "And then I was gone. I was just freefalling. It felt like forever, but it was just a second or two, and I didn't know what I was going to hit. And all I saw was darkness."
"At some point, I said, 'I need to get out of here. Now,'" Mihal recalled.
At first, his friends thought it was a "crazy magic trick or something," but they came to his aide once they heard him moaning from inside the 18-foot pit. The fall dislocated one of Mihal's shoulders, which made rescue efforts difficult; after an initial attempt with a ladder, one of Mihal's friends climbed into the hole, made a make-shift splint for the injured arm out of a sweater and then tied a rope around Mihal to hoist him out.
Other than the injured shoulder, which may require surgery, and the temporary bout of claustrophobia, Mihal is fine – "I felt fortunate I didn't break both legs, or worse," Mihal told the Associated Press.