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. rdwray

    I don't watch any videos, gone to FOX

    May 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mrs Dixon

    I am sorry to read such a tragic story. There is healing for the family members who are left to mourn.
    @The Dark Lord Approaches- What Bible are you quoting from? Neither Genesis 3:10 or Matthew 4:7 read as you are quoting. I'm just saying......

    May 12, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |

    @Howard Paul Burgess: It's SIMPLE alright.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Marc

    @ Mike
    I don't blinbldy follow Obama because I'm Canadian. I do think he is MUCH better than George W. I don't want to wipe out religion and christinanity, I do want to integrate thought in the process. Once accomplished, thought will wipe out religion and christianity. I am sorry however if I got a little emotional in my past post, I'm sure if we met in a coffee shop, we would have a very interesting discussion. I do respect my fellow man no matter his beliefs, and I didn't need religion to make me this way either. Just a morale compass and some common sense.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chris

    ""known as" not "know as". Damnit CNN, you guys most certainly need to hire more overpayed editors."

    Dammit, Adame Esmakidze, maybe you should check your spelling before correcting others. It is spelled, "overpaid", not "overpayed". Oh, the irony.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nygiants4ever

    Well put "DonTheCanuck". People tend to forget the Americans, Brits, Canadians, Auzzies and a host of others paid a terrible price in places like Normandy and the South Pacific for the price of freedom and the right to make the comments listed here. Yes we can occasionally have a disagreement just like normal siblings do but when the chips are down, we can always count on each other. Stop bashing each other and simply offer your deepest condolences to the remaining families on their tragic loss. Semper Fi

    May 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. be-ách

    alright some things
    first this is a tragedy no one can argue that my prayers go to the family
    second to everyone in this comment thread, knock off all the fighting over spelling, god vs science and stupid crap like that.
    the important thing to get out of this is that you never know when or how it will come but death will one day claim all of you so make the most of the time you have before your time is up

    May 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Paul

    This whole thread and its subject reminds me of "The Bridge of San Luis Rey".

    May 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Don

    marc- do you do anything other sit on-line and critcize other for their beliefs?

    May 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CJZ

    I feel aweful for the family
    but Lorin you should read the book "it's time to eat the dog"

    May 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rzep8

    The question really is what caused the earth to liquify? Even if the soil is prone to liquifaction it only does so if there is some energy implied to it (i.e. shaking).

    Was there a small earthquake? If not, I hope it wasnt' the rumbling of some passing heavy truck, 'cause that means other properties in the area are at risk.

    My thoughts go out to the relatives. Hopefully, the people in the house went quick. It's hard to image a more terrifying scenario then your own home disintegrating around you and having no idea why.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Marc

    Don – Yes I do, sometimes I stand.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paul

    be-ách – Great comment.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mark

    I am sure the family is looking downing and is happy that the Candians beat the Pennguins!

    May 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sarah

    There really is no god, silly cavemen. But as we can see, there are, indeed, sinkholes.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
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