The Leon County Sheriff's Office is warning the public to stay away
from a sinkhole where two young men drowned earlier this year.
Church Sink, located near Crawfordville and Shelfer roads, has long been a popular swimming and cave-diving spot.
since the two deaths, the owner of the property, former Leon County
Commissioner Lee Vause, has put up "no trespassing" signs and filed a
trespass-warning letter with LCSO allowing deputies to conduct routine
patrols. He's also working with volunteers who will be cleaning up the
sinkhole and surrounding property starting today.
who served on the County Commission from 1972 to 1992, said he hopes
people will stay off the roughly 18-acre site that he's owned for
"They have no business in there," he said. "It's private property. They're trespassing. They can go in there and get hurt."
Tony Drzewiecki, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said anyone
found on the property without permission will be issued a trespassing
warning the first time and subject to arrest the second time.
property owner has made it clear that he does not want people
trespassing on his property," he said. "And we will certainly do
everything we can to assist him."
Hollis, 24, drowned May 19 at the sinkhole, and Donaje Brown, 19, died
June 22. In both cases, the men were swimming with a group of friends
when they became distressed and went under, investigators have said.
very regrettable that they lost their lives going on the property ...
without any permission and without any safeguards apparently," Vause
itself is about 18 to 20 feet deep, though it connects with an
underwater cave system with about 1,500 feet of passageway, said Steve
Cushman, co-owner of the Cave Connection dive shop in Crawfordville and
an active member of both the Wakulla County Dive Club and the Aquatic
down a steep clay embankment, Church Sink once was in pristine
condition. But its waters appeared murky green earlier this week and the
land around it was littered with trash. The sinkhole itself is choked
with junk from bicycles to old tires and carpet, Cushman said.
members of the Dive Club and the ASA will begin cleaning up the
property and the sinkhole. Local businesses donated dumpsters and heavy
equipment to help, Cushman added.
basically trying to restore it to its natural state," he said. "All the
pollutants that go in the water end up in other systems downstream.
What people really don't realize is these sinkholes are the windows to
the aquifer, and that's where we get all our drinking water."
Written by Jeff Burlew Tallahassee Democrat senior writer