ALTA, California – Workers recovered the body of a man killed after plunging 10 feet when a sinkhole opened beneath his house.
Authorities said 32-year-old Jason Chellew was a schoolteacher whose wife was pregnant. He was relaxing in his living room around 9:30 p.m. Friday when he heard creaking noises, sprang up and began to move across the room just as the floor opened beneath him, authorities said.
His wife was in bed and was not hurt, said Rick Armstrong, a retired Placer County sheriff's captain who said he has known the Chellew family for decades.
Chellew had no pulse when rescuers reached him Friday night. The workers trying to extricate his body were forced to retreat because the ground was unstable and a second sinkhole opened up about 50 feet away from the house. His body was recovered Sunday.
The area, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, was heavily mined for gold in the late 1800s. A mine collapse is one likely cause of the strange episode, officials said. Recent rains possibly softened the ground under the home.
"You hate to lose anybody like that," said Carol Gillies, clerk of the Alta Fire District. "This whole area is undermined with mines. It makes you think about, 'Where did I build my house?"'
The coroner said Chellew was suffocated and suffered multiple blunt force trauma when debris fell on top of him.