Teen, truck fall into 7-foot deep hole in Elkhart parking lot

A teenager and a car fell into a hidden hole in an Elkhart Parking lot in two separate incidents Saturday.

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on March 12, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.

ELKHART — A teen and a truck fell into a 7-foot-deep hole thought to be a shallow puddle in an Elkhart parking lot in separate incidents Saturday afternoon.

Terry Grant of Elkhart said he stopped at the Family Dollar store at 909 Goshen Avenue to buy a liter of soda around 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 9. As looked for a parking space, he drove through a puddle and the front right wheel of his 1995 Ford Ranger sank into the water.

“I thought (the hole) was small, so I tried to back out,” Grant said. “The truck was leaning real bad.”

He could not move the truck and called a tow truck to help him out of the water-filled hole.

“(The tow truck driver) measured how deep it was and it was about 7 feet (deep),” Grant said.

The vehicle suffered minimal damage, Grant said.

While he was unharmed, Grant said he was concerned that other Family Dollar customers walking through the parking lot, especially small children.

Gant was not the only person to have an encounter with the hole Saturday.

Trinda Leach, a manager at Family Dollar, said she was not at work on Saturday but an assistant manager told her a group of teenage boys dared a friend to jump into what they thought was a shallow mud muddle in the parking lot.

“I think they thought it was just ankle-deep, but when he jumped he was just gone,” Leach said.

Leach said the boy could not swim and was pulled out of the hole by his friends. He was uninjured.

Shortly after that incident, Grant drove his truck into the hidden hole.

Tony Staltari, the owner of the property, said the hole is a dry well that collapsed. It is now covered with white boards and an orange cone.

“It should probably be fixed within a week,” Staltari said. “I’m talking to my insurance company and I haven’t gotten any estimates yet, but I don’t think it will be terribly cheap.”

Staltari estimates the parking lot was built in the 1950s and it has been refinished several times but not repaved.

Repaving the lot would cost about $100,000 and would not have prevented the problem with the drywell, he said.

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