Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After seeing Tampa sinkhole swallow car, benefactor gets family another one

A nearly 30-foot-deep sinkhole formed outside the Burnham family’s home in Bordeaux Village Condominiums Thursday.


A nearly 30-foot-deep sinkhole formed outside the Burnham family’s home in Bordeaux Village Condominiums Thursday.

TAMPA — Sean Burnham feels like he hit rock bottom, and awoke Sunday to find the family car had, too.

The 1995 Toyota Camry slid to the bottom of a nearly 30-foot-deep sinkhole outside his home.

The gaping hole forced 11 families, including his, to evacuate a building at the Bordeaux Village Condominiums near the University of South Florida.

He's unemployed. His wife, Sandy, is a convenience store clerk. They have two kids. He used the Camry during the day to look for employment. She used it at night to get to work.

Farther south from their Parrish home, Bill and Kathy Palmer watched the story unfold on television. They wanted to do something to help. So they did.

"Our hearts went out to them," Bill Palmer said. "It's the first time I've seen, literally, a car swallowed up like that."

After calling the American Red Cross, Palmer got in touch with the Burnhams. He told them he would get them another car.

After visiting the Brandon Hyundai Mitsubishi dealership, the Burnham family was sitting in a 2001 Volvo V70.

"They gave us a beautiful car that we are still in shock of owning," Sean Burnham said. "As soon as we are in a position we can pay it forward, we definitely will. We know what it is like to be down, broke and broken."

His family is staying at a hotel while crews fill in the sinkhole — a process that started Thursday and could take some time.

Palmer is founder of Bank Card Processing, a company that processes credit card activity for retail stores and restaurants.

"We feel that we have the responsibility because we have been blessed with a lot," Palmer said. "That's just our philosophy and what we do."

Crews worked through Thursday filling in the hole with 160 cubic yards of sand and 20 tons of stone. The Burnhams' old car, which disappeared down the hole, also will serve as filler.

"It might be something that helps stabilize the sinkhole," said Marielle Westerman, the condo association's attorney.

The fill-in, which could take several days to finish, is just the beginning of the restoration process, she said.

Westerman said part of the foundation of an outside staircase has eroded. There also could be more damage inside the condo closest to the sinkhole.

The Red Cross was assisting six families with housing. Some of the others are living with relatives out of state as they wait for repairs, said spokeswoman Janet McGuire.

Jared Leone can be reached at (813) 226 3435 or jleone@sptimes. Katie Sanders can be reached at (727) 893-8804 or

After seeing Tampa sinkhole swallow car, benefactor gets family another one 07/15/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 15, 2010 11:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates


    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears


    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'


    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]