Nation Briefs 02-14-14 Chevrolet planning to resurrect what sinkhole swallowed

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What Mother Earth devoured, Chevrolet plans to resurrect. The carmaker said Thursday it will oversee restoration of the classic cars swallowed by a huge sinkhole beneath the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.

General Motors Design in Warren, Mich., will manage the painstaking work to repair the eight prize vehicles, the automaker said Thursday.

The cars were consumed when the earth opened up early Wednesday beneath a display area when the museum in Bowling Green, Ky., was closed. No injuries were reported. The museum was open Thursday except for the area where the sinkhole occurred.

Mark Reuss, GM's head of global product development, said the damaged vehicles rank as "some of the most significant in automotive history."

"There can only be one 1-millionth Corvette ever built," he said, referring to one of the damaged cars. "We want to ensure as many of the damaged cars are restored as possible so fans from around the world can enjoy them."

Just how the cars will be pulled out of the ground remains to be seen, said museum executive director Wendell Strode. The local fire department estimated the hole is about 40 feet across and 25 to 30 feet deep. The hole opened beneath part of the museum's domed section.

"We feel pretty confident that most of the cars can be extracted," Strode said Thursday. "And we hope and believe that with just a little bit of luck, that all eight cars can be extracted and be part of the restoration."

Chevrolet spokesman Monte Doran said some of the cars look to be in good shape, while others are buried in rubble.

GM recalling nearly 780,000 cars: General Motors is recalling almost 780,000 older-model compact cars in North America because a faulty ignition switch can shut off the engines without warning and cause crashes. The company says six people have died in 22 crashes linked to the problem in Chevrolet Cobalts from the 2005-07 model years, and Pontiac G5s from 2007. A heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can move the ignition switch out of the run position, cutting off the engine and electrical power, GM said in statements and documents released Thursday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If that happens, the front air bags may not work if there's a crash. GM says the six fatalities occurred in five front-end crashes, all of which happened off-road and at high speeds. In each case, the ignition switch moved out of the run position, shutting off the engine and electrical power, spokesman Alan Adler said. That condition would cause the loss of power-steering assist and power-assisted brakes, he said.

May wait on Karzai's successor: The Obama administration has quietly stopped demanding that Afghan President Hamid Karzai finalize a stalled security pact within weeks, opening up the possibility that a decision on keeping U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan after this year might not be made until after Karzai's successor is elected this spring. While U.S. officials say they still strongly prefer that the agreement be signed quickly, they did not rule out the possibility of waiting to see if a new Afghan leader might be easier to work with. Pushing off the decision on keeping troops in Afghanistan comes with increased risks and complications for the U.S. military, though the Pentagon is making adjustments to give President Barack Obama that option.

Launch effort to fight outbreaks: The U.S. and 26 other countries began a new effort Thursday to prevent and fight outbreaks of dangerous infectious diseases before they spread around the globe. U.S. health officials called the Global Health Security Agenda a priority because too many countries lack the health infrastructure necessary to spot a new infection rapidly and sound the alarm before it has time to gain a foothold and even spread into other countries.

Driver faces six murder counts: Olivia Culbreath, whom police say drove the wrong way on a Southern California freeway sparking a deadly head-on crash that killed her sister and five others, was charged Thursday with six counts of murder, Los Angeles County prosecutors said. Culbreath, 21, of Fontana, could face up to life in prison if convicted. Culbreath's bail was set at $6 million. but she remained hospitalized with a broken femur and ruptured bladder suffered in Sunday's crash east of Los Angeles. It was unclear when Culbreath would be able to appear in court.

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