It didn’t swallow a house or a person, although a car nearly fell victim.
Heavy rainfall overnight collapsed a catch basin at the corner of Kirkwood Drive and Parkdale Road in West Jefferson on Monday, pulling sidewalk and pavement into a hole about eight feet deep and six feet wide. Additional concrete and blacktop dangled precariously above the gaping hole.
Portions of both streets were closed, pending emergency repair.
A catch basin or storm drain is a curbside drain which collects rainwater and transports it through a system of underground pipes.
Village police chief Terry Ward said a caller alerted his department to the widening hole at 11:18 a.m.
Ward said skid marks and mud led him to believe a vehicle tire found the spot at some point. Although he was unsure if that motorist called police.
Word of the gaping “sinkhole” spread throughout the neighborhood and via Facebook. Marilyn Otis lives about six houses away and learned of the collapse from her daughter in Toledo. The daughter saw it on Facebook, Otis said.
Ward said Kirkwood Drive is scheduled for a total renovation and resurfacing in coming months. How the catch basin collapse will affect those plans remains undetermined.
True sinkholes or natural “karsts” are rare in Ohio, but not unheard of, according to Douglas Aden of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Geological Survey.
The Ohio DNR receives numerous calls yearly regarding sinkholes. Most turn out to be old wells, cisterns or catch basins that failed to stand the test of time, Aden said.
Ohio’s natural karsts occur on a line that runs from the city of Bellvue on the Huron-Sandusky County line, south through Delaware County to Adams County on the Ohio River. Some also occur near Cincinnati, Springfield and Bellefontaine.
Karsts are formed when limestone or dolomite lying below the earth’s surface develops cracks. Rain water seeps through, widening those cracks and depositing surface material that eventually gives way. The process is very slow, Aden said.
Farmers in the Bellvue area are accustomed to seeing karsts in their fields.
“They just farm around them,” Aden said.
Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.