BOWLING GREEN (MCT) – Staff at the National Corvette Museum received a call at 5:44 a.m. Wednesday from their security company, alerting them of a breach.
What museum officials found inside the facility's Skydome display area was not a burglar, but a sinkhole estimated to be 40 feet wide and as much as 30 feet deep that had swallowed eight irreplaceable Corvettes.
Two of the cars were on loan from General Motors and six belonged to the museum, spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli said during a press conference inside the museum's lobby later Wednesday morning.
"We're just happy none of the vehicles were on loan from private individuals," said Frassinelli, marketing and communications manager at the museum.
Frassinelli speculated that the most valuable car in the sinkhole is a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, which was one of the GM-owned cars. No information was immediately available on the total value of the cars. Insurance adjusters were en route to the museum.
Structural engineers also were working to determine the depth and fragility of the sinkhole. Once that work was complete and the sinkhole was determined to be stable, then the job of removing the cars from the hole could begin, Frasinelli said after the press conference.
No one was in or around the museum at the time" the sinkhole formed, Frasinelli said. "We were glad this didn't happen during regular business hours. God was watching over us."
The exterior of the Skydome is shaped like an upside down yellow cone with a red spire at the top. It's often used in promotional materials for the museum and is clearly visible from nearby Interstate 65.
Frassinelli became emotional during the press conference when talking about her reaction to learning of the sinkhole this morning.
"You would have thought I lost a child," she said.
She said Corvette enthusiasts are like a family and the museum had received many phone calls and emails checking on the cars and the staff.
"The first question has been, 'Is everyone all right?' " she said.
No timetable was given for when repairs might begin to the Skydome floor, nor when the area might re-open.
The museum is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and the National Corvette Caravan will be in Bowling Green from Aug. 27-30. Frasinelli said the staff's hope is to have "the Skydome repaired and re-opened very soon."
The Corvette museum is a separate entity from the nearby GM Bowling Green Assembly Plant, where the sports cars are manufactured.
In the Hole
1993 ZR-1 Spyder on loan from General Motors
2009 ZR1 "Blue Devil" on loan from General Motors
1962 Black Corvette (museum owned)
1984 PPG Pace Car (museum owned)
1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette (museum owned)
1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette (museum owned)
2001 Mallett Hammer ZO6 Corvette (museum owned)
2009 White 1.5 Millionth Corvette (museum owned)