Family, friends too devastated to talk about hunter killed in sinkhole fall

concerns it could happen again

People who loved Marine Curtis Powelson aren't ready to talk about him or the tragedy that led to his sudden death.

September 17, 2013|by Joanna Small, KSPR News | Reporter

BUCKHORN, Mo. -- There could be others.  That's what law enforcement officials in Pulaski County are worried about after a sinkhole opened up suddenly, killing an unwary hunter.  He was Curtis Powelson, 31, a Marine at Fort Leonard Wood.

The Pulaski County sheriff says Powelson shot a deer from a tree stand in his backyard and was attempting to track it when he dropped into the 70-foot deep hole disguised by brush.
It happened a few miles outside busy, urban Waynesville where the roads turn to gravel and something sweet.  They're called Raspberry and Rhubarb Lane.  The town of Buckhorn just seems inviting, friendly, close -- so close almost none of the mostly military families who lives there could bring themselves to talk about Powelson or what happened to him.

Anthony Powers' backyard faces Powelson's front yard.  Having lived here just six months, he didn't know Powelson and he didn't find out about the massive sinkhole until a few hours ago.

"When I got home from work this afternoon, I looked it up on the internet," he said.

It's a bit disconcerting; Powers was surprised to learn the land on which he lives -- the land that's still being developed with new buildings -- is susceptible to sinkholes of this magnitude; everyone was.

"I kind of use that term loosely because I've seen sinkholes before and this was nothing like I've seen before," said Sheriff Ron Long.  "It was very cylindrical."

Long was there in the middle of the night when a group of at least 20 firefighters, police officers, and some neighbors discovered the pit.

"We had some deputies that were real close and didn't see it, also some firefighters that almost went off into the sinkhole."

They'd been searching for Powelson for hours after his wife reported him missing.  Several people had to rappel into the sinkhole to retrieve his body.

"We had to do that cautiously too because this was a very new sinkhole, the sides were freshly collapsed, and just getting up to the edge you could see the dirt and ground giving away." 
Long says it could be part of a cave system and the area could have others.
But no one in Buckhorn is out searching for sinkholes Tuesday night.  No one is out at all.
Powelson leaves behind a wife and young child. He trained Military Police officers at Fort Leonard Wood.  We called the U. S. Marine Corps for more information on Powelson but public information officers can't release information for at least 24 hours after relatives have been notified of a service member's death.
The sheriff says he thinks the big rain storm last month in the county may have contributed to the sinkhole's sudden emergence.  He says it's too large to fill so it will have to be fenced off.

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