'Parts Of The Building Fell, And It Kept Cracking,' Witness Says

CLERMONT, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New Jersey man recalled the terrifying experience of watching a building partially collapse into a sinkhole in a resort near Orlando, Fla.

As 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported, parts of the building at the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, Fla., were swallowed by a 100-foot sinkhole early Monday. All 105 guests were evacuated from the building, and no injuries were reported.

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The sound of commotion outside got Luis Perez’s attention around 11:30 p.m.

“And I was even thinking about calling the front desk about it. But then, all the lights went out,” he said.

Perez is from Verona, N.J., and has been vacationing with his family and staying at the resort in a different building.

“I saw the emergency vehicles, and I walked over,” he said. “You could see that one of the buildings was tilted, and there was a big crack in the foundation.”

It happened slowly enough that people could get out safely, but it kept getting worse, Perez said.

“Parts of the building fell, and it kept cracking; sinking more,” he said.

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It went on until about 3 a.m., Perez said. He said people knew exactly what was happening, since sinkholes are common in Florida.

“I grew up in New York my whole life, and have never seen that,” he said.

He said it was hardly the kind of adventure he expected on his family’s Disney vacation.

Two neighboring buildings were evacuated as a precaution following the collapse. Inspectors remained at the scene throughout the day Monday to determine whether those buildings would be safe to re-enter, and whether any belongings from the collapsed structure would be recovered.

The development’s president said there were no earlier signs that a sinkhole was developing. He said the resort underwent testing when it was built about 15 years ago, showing stable ground.

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