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Family Of Four Dies In Sinkhole After Yard Silently Liquefies

OTTAWA -- Richard Prefontaine and his wife, Lynne Charbonneau, were watching a playoff hockey game with their two daughters on Monday night when the ground beneath their house gave way suddenly and without warning.

The house’s bright green metal roof was all that was visible the next day in a vast mud crater near the village of St. Jude, Quebec, about 50 miles northeast of Montreal. The landslide created a hole 100 feet deep, 300 yards wide and a third of a mile long.

The family's remains were found huddled together on a couch by the television, with rescuers discovering only their golden retriever, tied to a tree, alive.

On Wednesday, officials allowed residents of several nearby houses to return home. But the family's shocking demise was a stark reminder of a hidden menace under many parts of Quebec, one that dates back 10,000 years to an ancient inland sea.

Michel A. Bouchard, a professor of geology at the University of Montreal, said the area around St. Jude rests on an unusual variety of "sensitive clay" that was originally the bed of an ancient sea. Lake Champlain is a remnant of the sea.

Because the clay formed in salt water, Professor Bouchard said, the molecular structure of its particles resembles playing cards arranged as an unstable house of cards, rather than stacked in a deck, as occurs with clay formed in fresh water. A variety of events can break the molecular bonds holding the clay particles together. When that occurs, the clay can spontaneously liquefy with little or no provocation.

"Even a fly landing on the surface can set it off," he said.

The landslide took place so quickly and silently on Monday night that many neighbors could not understand why their electricity and water supply had been disrupted. The collapse removed a large section of road, sending a pickup truck into the crater. It took the injured driver about an hour to crawl to safety.

Deadly or disruptive landslides involving the clay, sometimes known as Leda clay, take place occasionally in Quebec and eastern Ontario. In 1971, 31 people died and 40 houses were destroyed by a landslide in St.-Jean Vianney, Quebec. The town of Lemieux, Ontario, east of Ottawa, was relocated in 1991 after officials became concerned about the stability of the clay underneath the town. Two years later, a landslide consumed 42 acres near Lemieux's former location.

by Anonymousreply 7503/12/2013

Why would they tie their dog to a tree? What's the point of living in the country and having a dog if you're just going to tim him/her to a tree.

Thank God the dog lived and hopefully he/she will be put with a family who actually loves and cares for it.

by Anonymousreply 105/13/2010


by Anonymousreply 205/13/2010

Death by silent liquification?

by Anonymousreply 305/13/2010

Now THAT is an insatiable bottom!

by Anonymousreply 405/13/2010

But what was on their ipods?

by Anonymousreply 505/14/2010

Sink Into Me by Taking Back Sunday

by Anonymousreply 605/14/2010

R1 I hope you are kidding, if not, you need to get yourself over a sinkhole, QUICK!

by Anonymousreply 705/14/2010

r6, you must be the mother of the band's singer.

by Anonymousreply 805/14/2010

How awful

by Anonymousreply 905/14/2010

Leave it. In 2000 years that will make a popular tourist attraction.

by Anonymousreply 1005/14/2010

R1 is why I genuinely loathe some pet owners.

by Anonymousreply 1105/14/2010

I know just how that sinkhole feels. Just one person is never enough.

by Anonymousreply 1205/14/2010

I love R10

by Anonymousreply 1305/14/2010

I agree with R1. It's loathsome to leave your dog tied a tree outside all day.

by Anonymousreply 1405/14/2010

What a bizarre way to begin an episode of "The Simpsons."

by Anonymousreply 1505/14/2010

"sometimes known as Leda clay"

You just know this stuff is going to end up at high-end spas.

R14, no one will ever know why it was tied, but for that to be one's first thought after reading that story is why I cannot stand people obsessed with animals. It's like listening to a frau.

by Anonymousreply 1605/14/2010

I agree "R1" and "R14" Here in the United States most counties and cities have ordinances against tying a dog to a tree for an extended length of time. Everyone who is for tying up a dog should be required to be tied up themselves to a tree for extended periods. My constant companion and best friend was a Golden Retriever who lived a long and happy life. I only tied him up when he and I were on a long walk and I had to stop at a store.

by Anonymousreply 1705/14/2010

I had a friend who tied her dog to a tree, and she died in a sinkhole.

by Anonymousreply 1805/14/2010

Perhaps the dog was on a dog run that was tied to a tree because they had no fence. And r4 - you are sick funny in the best DL tradition.

by Anonymousreply 1905/14/2010

Well, R17, the sinkhole did you one better. An entire family is now dead. I'm sure it was karma.


by Anonymousreply 2005/14/2010

Talk about surprise sinkhole.

by Anonymousreply 2205/14/2010

r21, get some help.

by Anonymousreply 2305/14/2010

Told you I was hardcore.

by Anonymousreply 2405/14/2010

I didn't know Cheryl lived in Ottawa.

by Anonymousreply 2505/14/2010

R21, how in the world does this story remind you of your dead dog?

by Anonymousreply 2605/14/2010

How do they know what the family was watching on television?

by Anonymousreply 2705/14/2010

Actually, R24, you're pretty softcore. That was the problem.

by Anonymousreply 2805/14/2010

"R27" the authorities knew because the males were holding on to their hockey sticks as the female was waiting for a puck.

by Anonymousreply 2905/14/2010

Theres was the only house where the game went into sudden death over slime.

by Anonymousreply 3005/14/2010

[quote]I didn't know Cheryl lived in Ottawa.

This happened in St. Jude, Quebec. Not Ottawa.

Although Ottawa does have more than its fair share of large gaping holes.

by Anonymousreply 3105/14/2010

[quote]Although Ottawa does have more than its fair share of large gaping holes.

I resent that remark!

by Anonymousreply 3205/14/2010

I wonder if the dog could have warned the family had it been inside with the family? Animals sense stuff like that happening, don't they?

by Anonymousreply 3305/14/2010

i agree with r1

by Anonymousreply 3405/14/2010

You're correct r33. Perhaps the dog had "issues" with the family.

by Anonymousreply 3505/14/2010

I'm also with R1, and I feel bad for R21 because my yellow lab X died 18 months ago and I'm still not over it.

by Anonymousreply 3605/14/2010

It would be freaky to be sitting in your house, and then suddenly the ground gives way underneath. If they were huddled on the couch, I assume they didn't have time to move.

How were they killed exactly? Was the house flooded with liquified clay, suffocating them? If that's the case, I'm surprised they were still on the couch, and that the rescuers were able to recover their bodies so quickly.

by Anonymousreply 3705/14/2010

Some animal lovers are loathsome human beings. Being glad an entire family, including two children are dead, because they tied their dog to a tree, disturbs me greatly.

by Anonymousreply 3805/14/2010

Oh Christ - not the children shit again.

I mean seriously, who are these assholes that keep posting about horrid events that are far worse because children were involved?

You know, 16 people could die in a tornado but they'll focus on the one kid that stubbed their toe that day.

by Anonymousreply 3905/14/2010

the family's neglect and mistreatment of the dog saved its life. Hopefully he'll get a second chance.

by Anonymousreply 4005/14/2010

{quote]seriously, who are these assholes that keep posting about horrid events that are far worse because children were involved?

Most adults view childhood as a time of innocence. Tragedies are magnified when they happen to the innocent.

by Anonymousreply 4105/14/2010

R21's narcissism is larger than the sinkhole.

by Anonymousreply 4205/14/2010

[quote]How do they know what the family was watching on television?

What else would they have been watching?

by Anonymousreply 4305/14/2010

R11 and R42 beat me to it.

It ain't Primetime killing DL.

by Anonymousreply 4505/14/2010

that sucks.

by Anonymousreply 4605/14/2010

EDITOR! Please F&F R25. And then you know what to do...

by Anonymousreply 4705/14/2010

"...and Ladies and Gentlemen, that little Golden Retriever, left cruelly tied to a tree, grew up to be PRESIDENT of this great country!!!!"

by Anonymousreply 4905/14/2010

Why would anyone build a house on land like this? Isn't there a way to tell that the land isn't stable enough to build a house on it?

by Anonymousreply 5005/14/2010

I wonder what that old lesbian with the cracks in her new concrete thinks of this.

by Anonymousreply 5105/14/2010


by Anonymousreply 5205/14/2010

r38, show me where any of us say we're glad the family is dead.

by Anonymousreply 5305/14/2010

The whole state of Florida is going to do that. Soon.

by Anonymousreply 5405/14/2010

So what set off the earth? Did they all jump up because their team scored a goal?

by Anonymousreply 5505/14/2010

r54, I live in Florida. What do you mean it's going to happen here soon. I mean I know there are a lot of karst areas......

by Anonymousreply 5605/14/2010

I know that some of the jokes on this thread are funny, but sorry, I think this is a really sad story. What an awful way for people to die.

by Anonymousreply 5705/14/2010

This sounds like a SyFy movie waiting to happen. Surely the sad tied-up dog summoned the subterranean animal demigods to open their maws and create the sinkhole.

Bad pet owners! Be aware your animal companions are in touch with powers beyond your imagination!


by Anonymousreply 5805/14/2010

Look out, R56! It's starting!

by Anonymousreply 5903/03/2013

This part of Canada is also a seismic zone. A magnitude 6 quake would be devastating.

by Anonymousreply 6003/03/2013

Do you think they knew what was happening?

(Sorry, I have no comments about the dog).

by Anonymousreply 6103/03/2013

No where in the article does it say the dog was tied up for long periods of time.

by Anonymousreply 6203/03/2013

[quote]Why would they tie their dog to a tree? What's the point of living in the country and having a dog if you're just going to tim him/her to a tree.

Thank God the dog lived and hopefully he/she will be put with a family who actually loves and cares for it.

I'll take the dog. Everyone knows you don't tie a dog to tree! You tie it to the roof of your car.

by Anonymousreply 6303/03/2013

How do they know what they were watching?

by Anonymousreply 6403/03/2013

How did you remember that someone on here predicted that this would happen in Florida???!!

by Anonymousreply 6503/03/2013

The sinkhole was HUGE (300 yards long and a 1/3 mile wide), and yet a dog tied to a tree survives? Where was this tree? In Montreal?

by Anonymousreply 6603/03/2013

So then that's even worse, God only knows where the dog was tied. It could have been really far away,.. geez,..some people's kids!~

by Anonymousreply 6703/03/2013

When you live in the country, if you have a dog that sometimes likes to wander, you have to tie it up because if you'll notice, city people and people in the suburbs have fences but country people don't.

A well trained doggie won't mind if it's not for long, and you keep an eye out to make sure it doesn't get tangled. And if you go outside, you untie it so it can be with you. It's not torture for the dog.

But this - "My constant companion and best friend was a Golden Retriever" - Good god, Gert, get a grip.

by Anonymousreply 6803/03/2013

I think someone in that house flushed the toilet too hard!

by Anonymousreply 6903/03/2013

R58, please don't give them any ideas!

by Anonymousreply 7003/03/2013

How did they get their two daughters onto a couch to watch hockey?

by Anonymousreply 7103/05/2013

[quote] Thank God the dog lived and hopefully he/she will be put with a family who actually loves and cares for it.

This thread and the story at OP's link are 3 years old. I'm sure that unlike DL, the dog has moved on.

by Anonymousreply 7203/05/2013

This sounds exactly like the first 3 minutes of an episode of Bones- and will probably be ripped from the headlines for a Law and Order.

I assume they had cable and the company knows what channel their box was tuned to. (Insert Cheryl Joke)

by Anonymousreply 7303/05/2013

[quote] How did they get their two daughters onto a couch to watch hockey?

They were Canadians, for gawd's sake. It's a given.

Their house wasn't completely swallowed. Unfortunately for the family, they watched tv in the basement. OOPS.

by Anonymousreply 7403/12/2013

I remember a few years ago when a little boy in Florida was swallowed-up by a sinkhole, his last words were, "There's snakes down here!" *shudders*

by Anonymousreply 7503/12/2013
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