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. Moi

    Je suis désolées de lire que la famille et trouvée comme ça. Vous êtes dans mes prières.

    May 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Radiant

    Who would expect to come to such harm while enjoying an evening at home. Astonishing and sad. God bless.

    May 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Wolf Rayet

    @Nathan- Got news for you pal, the vast majority of people in prison believe in god or a higher power.

    @just observing- In your words "Hello the world didn't start with people believing in God or Countries.....Man created both" so you understand man created god not the other way around correct?

    May 12, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. heather


    May 12, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Janet Doucette

    God bless this family and the ones left behind to cope, how in God's name did this happen? Please let someone investigate to make sure it never happens again...may they rest in peace.

    May 12, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Virginia Johnson

    What happened to this family is a tragedy. Their family members will be in my prayers.
    I do hope the dog is found and returned to one of the family (brother, sister, aunt, or uncle)
    Where God is concerned, I believe in God. He is a very important aspect of my life. I know that God has a floorplan for all of us. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is sad.
    We all learn to accept this and go on with our lives. If you don't believe that is your right.
    I will not try to force my God on you so you quit trying to force me not to believe.

    May 12, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Allison

    To those of you who are annoyed that some of us are glad the DOG survived–news flash back at you: PEOPLE are ANIMALS, too. Yes, I'm sorry for the family, my sympathies go out to their family and friends, but I, too, am very glad the dog survived. Get over your vanity. We are all animals–go take a biology class then learn to relax.

    May 12, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. American Girl

    @ DonTheCanuck

    Very well said!! Thank You

    Such a shame what happened to the family. May they R.I.P

    May 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fatjesus

    I keep waiting for something similiar to happen to california but it never does. Why does an innocent family in Canada have to suffer for all of us to be able to say things that make little to no difference at all

    May 12, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. maria

    Can someone explain to me how this forum has become a debate on Religion? A debate on how to properly spell words? A debate on everything but what this story was initially written for and that is the tragedy of the situation. As a Montrealer this story has been on the news here for the last few days & theories as to how it happened have made the rounds but the fact remains that there was loss of life. To the family of the deceased "mes plus sinceres condoleances, que la force soit avec vous". Go ahead guys find that in a dictionary!!!



    May 12, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Art

    Americans really amuse me and truly are laughable throughout the world.. Between God Fearing Crap and trying to educate each other , you miss the point. You have NO culture ( unless you consider Disneyland or reality shows culture ). Most Americans don't even know what DC , as in Washington DC means , yet they seem to think their opinions matter. They Don't !!!

    May 12, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rod Vick

    Speaking of editing, Ezmakidze, that's "overpaid."

    May 12, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bob

    Pay attention CNN! It was not a sink hole. It was a landslide that destroyed the house and killed the 4 people.

    May 12, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dave

    How did they die? Probably suffucation. It looks like the sink hole was in fact due to lateral spread. It's like a mini landslide caused by liquafaction. That muddy clay turned fluid and poured right in through the windows, doors after they hit the bottom of the hole. Drowning in mudd would suck! I feel for the family, especially the young ones.

    May 12, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jan

    Sorry for the family that is left behind to grieve. As for the dog surviving, that would be most important to me if something happened in my home. My only concern is that my dogs never suffer because in this world they're the only ones compassionate enough to deserve nothing less.

    May 12, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
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