"Nothing like this has ever happened in Hudson," said Howard Graves. The 20-year-old Hudson resident was standing in the hot sun, waiting to see a 130-foot-deep sinkhole give up a water-logged car that probably held a dead body. Graves wanted to see how divers pulled off the recovery. He said he wanted to watch them solve the mystery of the cold, murky hole.
Graves was not alone. At least 150 other people stood for several hours Friday, hoping to catch a glimpse of the car and the body.
Divers tried for nearly two days to recover the car, believed to contain the body of an elderly Port Richey man missing since March, before succeeding about 2 p.m. Friday.
The sinkhole, known as Palm Sink, is about 50 feet from U.S. 19 in northwest Pasco. It virtually was blocked from casual view by deputies from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, but spectators began arriving at 8 a.m. anyway.
They parked their cars on the shoulder of U.S. 19 and in the parking lot of a nearby convenience store.
Many spectators brought cameras and VCRs to record the moment. Television station helicopters made overhead passes all day. Sheriff's deputies tried to prevent congestion on U.S. 19, but fighting the rubberneckers all day was a losing battle. There were no serious accidents.
At least six police cruisers were at the scene, along with a fire truck and paramedics who were on standby in case any of the divers was injured trying to retrieve the car.
The 1986 Olds Cutlass was discovered early Thursday by two cave divers practicing night dives. The car was registered to an 85-year-old Port Richey man, Fritz Geszti, who has been missing since March. The body in the car was believed to be Geszti.
Joe Corsi, 66, said he stopped four times to watch the divers go into the sinkhole. He stopped twice Thursday and twice Friday, waiting a total of five hours for something to happen.
One Hudson woman who was using a green and yellow parasol to protect herself from the sun said she could sympathize with Geszti's family because her father is 86.
Another woman, who had been watching for about two hours, said she was interested in the case because weeks earlier she had called the Sheriff's Office thinking she had seen Geszti at work.
Pete Tichico and Craig Clark from Ridgewood High School said they heard about the car from Pete's little brother, who attends Hudson Elementary School They joined the spectators along the highway.
But for 22-year-old Melissa Miles, the only reason anyone would want to keep watch at the sinkhole Friday was because, "things like this just don't happen in Hudson."