Golfer Mark Mihal rescued by friends when 15-ft sinkhole swallows him on a St Louis course

By | March 13, 2013

Sinkhole: The 43-year-old fell into a bell-shaped enclosure below the green that measured 15 feet deep and 10 feet wide, picturedA Missouri father was hoping for a hole-in-one when he set out for a day of golf on Friday – but he didn’t think he’d end up the one in the hole.

St Louis mortgage banker and avid golfer Mark Mihal was with three friends at the Annbriar Golf Course near Waterloo when he suddenly disappeared into the turf on the fairway of the 14th hole.

The 43-year-old fell into a bell-shaped enclosure below the green that measured 15 feet deep and 10 feet wide, surprising his golf pals and the course management who said this was the first time anything like this had happened in Annbriar’s 20-year history.

‘I noticed this anomaly in the fairway and went to have a look but, by the time I took one step, I was gone, I was underground,’ Mihal told MailOnline.

‘When I went through (the opening) I couldn’t see anything, I didn’t know how far I was going or what I was going to hit.’

He said, after plummeting through the earth, he landed on a pile of mud in a cavernous space that could have fit up to 10 people.

‘I was just lying on the side of the mound,’ he said. ‘There was some room in there, it was sort of like a room or a cave. It wasn’t confining. It was very dark, though after a while my eyes got used to it. But I couldn’t look up because there was stuff still falling.’

The rescue was precarious as no one knew whether the hole would expand, swallowing more people. The fact he dislocated his shoulder in the fall didn’t help either.

‘I knew the only way to get out was straight up and I didn’t have the use of my left arm,’ he said.

Sinkhole: The 43-year-old fell into a bell-shaped enclosure below the green that measured 15 feet deep and 10 feet wide, pictured…

His friends – Mike Peters, Ed Magaletta and Hank Martinez – called the golf course’s pro shop and, armed with a rope and a 12-ft ladder, general manager Russ Noble rushed to help out.

Magaletta, a local real estate agent with whom Mihal had been playing golf for years, bravely volunteered to climbed down into the enclosure where he tied the rope around his friend’s waist so the team could pull him to safety.

‘Ed came down to get me. He made a sling out of his jacket and tied a rope around me, which the others used to pull me from the top and he pushed me from underneath,’ Mihal said.

The whole rescue took just 20 minutes, but the father said, during the terrifying ordeal, he couldn’t help but think of the sinkhole that two weeks ago swallowed 36-year-old Florida man Jeffrey Bush, who remains missing.

‘That crossed my mind when I was actually falling. Is this how I’m going to go out? In a sinkhole,’ Mihal told MailOnline.

Leave a Reply