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. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  2. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County


    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Scaramucci on leaks: 'I'm going to fire everybody'


    WASHINGTON — Anthony Scaramucci, President Donald Trump's new communications director, vowed Tuesday to purge the White House staff of disloyal aides in an effort to crack down on leaks, as another member of the press staff resigned from a West Wing reeling from an unfolding shake-up.

  4. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts


    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

  5. Editorial: Floridians' health care now at risk in Washington


    The health care for millions of Floridians is now at risk. The U.S. Senate's dramatic vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with no idea what will happen is a dangerous gamble with American lives and the national economy. Barring an unexpected bipartisan compromise, a handful of …

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically returned to the Senate for the first time since his brain cancer was diagnosed and cast the key vote that enabled Vice President Mike Pence to break the 50-50 tie and allow the health care debate to proceed.