Tampa man loses vintage Corvette in sinkhole - FOX 13 News

Tampa man loses vintage Corvette in sinkhole

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LAND O' LAKES (FOX 13) -

A Bay area man watched crews in Kentucky on Wednesday unearth the same Corvette he had donated to the National Corvette Museum in December, before it dropped into a massive sinkhole weeks later.

The sinkhole two months ago swallowed a total of eight Corvettes, including a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 that belonged to Kevin Helmintoller of Land O' Lakes.

"It's a total train wreck," Helmintoller said via Skype. "I don't know how else to say it other than it was just devastating. It was much worse than anyone conceived it could possibly be."

Helmintoller said the Mallett Hammer had only been on display for 12 days before it sunk into the ground. It was the last of the eight cars recovered from the rubble and Helmintoller was there watch it happen.

"You can hardly recognize it's even a car," he said, adding he poured about $135,000 into the car over the years. "When they pulled it out today, I was devastated. I had to walk away from the hole. I'll admit: I cried."

Helmintoller's wife watched the process from her computer; she said this was more than just a car.

"It's really like losing someone really close to you," Linda Helmintoller said, adding she could see her husband's reaction, too. "I saw his body language, and I saw him crumble. I knew how hard it was on him. I knew he was already upset and not being there to comfort him was really hard."

Kevin said as upsetting as this is, he isn't second-guessing his decision to donate the car.

"I don't regret donating it, and I would do it again. Obviously, you donate a car from Florida, you don't think you're going to take it to Kentucky and worry about a sinkhole," he said. "It's got so much attention around the world that I think it's going to be increasing membership for the museum and hopefully increasing some donations because they need a lot of help right now."

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