May 12th, 2010
08:46 AM ET

Family dead in basement after sinkhole swallowed home

The bodies of a Canadian couple and their two daughters were found late Tuesday in the basement of their house that plunged into a massive sinkhole, CNN affiliates reported.

"They were found very close to one another, some of them lying on the couch in the family room in the basement, where we were told that they'd be," said Michel C. Doré, Quebec's associate deputy public security minister, who was on the scene, told CNN affiliate CBC.

Yvon Desrochers, uncle of homeowner Richard Préfontaine, told the CBC on Tuesday feared his nephew and his family were in the basement watching the Montreal Canadiens-Pittsburgh Penguins hockey playoff game Monday night when the ground gave way beneath the home, about 40 miles northeast of Montreal.

Besides Préfontaine, those in the home were his wife, Lyne Charbonneau, and their two daughters, Amélie, 12, and Anaïs, 9.

The family’s dog was found alive – caked in mud – in the sinkhole earlier Tuesday.

The hole was about 500 yards long and forced the evacuation of five other homes in the town of Saint-Jude, in a rural area near the Yamaska River.

While there was no official word on the cause of the sinkhole, geologist Judith Patterson told CNN affiliate CTV that the sinkhole looked like a kind of landslide known as a “lateral spread.”

The region has soils known as “quick clay” that can liquefy, leading to a landslide or sinkhole, she told CTV.

"These clays, they're stable when they're undisturbed. But once they're disturbed, then they become very hazardous," she told CTV.

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Filed under: Canada
soundoff (578 Responses)
  1. Mike

    Marc , aren't you just a hippocrite because you blindly follow Obama and you would love to wipe out religion and Christianity?

    May 12, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. prankster

    "Dream like you're going to live forever. Live like you're going to die today."
    James Dean

    May 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nardee

    This is WAY beyond sad. Devastatingly so. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CenterStage

    Just so you know. . .GOD didn't DO anything. He didn't cause this accident and for some reason He did not choose to stop it. When sin entered into His plan (yes, with Adam & Eve), it opened the door for all sorts of bad things, including natural disasters. We do not and will not live in a perfect world. For those of you who do not believe in God, I guarantee that one day you will. The point of this is that a family of 4 tragically died. If you don't believe in prayer, and therefore are unable to pray for the family who remain, then at least keep your insensitive comments to yourself. Please don't comment on my comment. I've heard it all before and your opinion does not bear repeating, nor does it change the truth.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Dark Lord Approaches

    Nothing like undeniable incest to prove your point in the existence of God and our point for being here.....................

    May 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. God

    Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. I am more real than any of you could possibly know. PS: Believe it or not, the Catholics come closest. (If you were my Lucifer, who would you make look the most ridiculous?) Be not afraid. Confess. Come home.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    God has blessed us all exceedingly with the gift of life. Especially, we Americans have been blessed with the good life. It is the epitomy of ungratefulness and hubris to deny His existence.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The Dark Lord Approaches

    You guys that live in 2010 and ahve not hopped on the evolution wagon are the most scary people who exist. The evidence and PROOF is all there yet you choose to come up with some incest stories to prove your point...Those are the types of folks the Dark Knight and his tail of wrath and fury must swoop down up and quickly tickle their heartless souls with a rear naked choke!!!

    May 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. meal ticket

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha mother earth said he is no like the french and ate them lol. at least we know earths not chinese as it didnt eat the dog OMG this is funny peace out nom nom nom nom nom

    May 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kelly

    What a sad story. I will keep the loved ones of this family in my prayers. I always tell my family that I love them but they are getting extra hugs and kisses tonight.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Noah

    wow all you people are dumb. blah blah blah

    May 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mike


    Worship God as a family, not the tv-the false idol that controls the nations.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Raina

    known as" not "know as". Damnit CNN, you guys most certainly need to hire more overpayed editors.
    ummm..shouldn't that be overpaid?

    May 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paul Porzio

    This makes me think that my belief in Murphy's Law is stronger than my belief in one god or another. However, I do know how to make God laugh. Just say "I have a plan."

    Seriously though, this is terrible. The fact that the dog survived may be an indicator, as is often the case, that animals can detect what is happening around them better than people can. The dog's survival is at least one good thing out of a whole mess of bad. Given all the overly rapid development I see in some areas, I hope that this wasn't a case of safety checks getting a back seat to speed in the completion of a project.


    May 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jim

    Mike: You are literally as dumb as a rock !!

    May 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
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