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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ Heavy rains may be contributing to people and pets recently falling into sinkholes in the High Springs area. High Springs Fire Department (HSFD) Public Information Officer Kevin Mangan reported that just before 2 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13, three local fire departments and a police department were dispatched to a wooded area off of Poe Springs Road to help rescue a couple trapped in a sinkhole.

HSFD, High Springs Police Department (HSPD), Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR) and Newberry Fire Rescue (NFR) were involved in the rescue attempt of the couple who had driven their ATV into a water-filled 40-foot deep sinkhole. Upon arrival, HSFD crews found the two victims trapped in the sinkhole.

“The couple was riding their ATV through the dark woods when their vehicle struck a sloped area on the ground, plummeting them into the sinkhole,” said Mangan. “The victims had to swim to the surface to await rescue,” he said. Luckily, another couple was with the two individuals and reportedly they were the ones who called 911 for assistance.

A single rescuer repelled down the sinkhole and removed each person one at a time using specialized technical rescue tools. The couple suffered only minor injuries and were not transported for further medical attention.

According to reports, the sinkhole is located in the wooded area roughly across from the industrial park, about a half of a mile off of the road.

In another incident that occurred at 6:35 a.m., Monday, Sept. 14, High Springs and Alachua County Firefighters were dispatched to 22210 N.W. 188th Street to rescue a dog reportedly stuck in another sinkhole. Upon arrival, HSFD Engine 29 crew found a dog trapped in a sinkhole roughly 40 feet deep. According to reports, the sink had been a stable depression on the property for the last several days before finally giving way.

Assisting with the rescue was Alachua County Fire Rescue’s technical rescue unit, Squad 23.

Authorities report that “A methodical preparation process led to ACFR Lt. Brian Ferguson, using an extension ladder and rope system, to descend into the sinkhole to rescue the dog. Once at the bottom, Lt. Ferguson found a frightened, but thankful pup. The dog was successfully removed from the sinkhole uninjured.”

This is the second technical rescue in a sinkhole in as many days in High Springs. While sinks are common in this area, both fire departments warn that the extended periods of rain seen recently may cause further sinkholes to open or deepen.

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