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New data gives researchers few answers about Mt. Baldy sinkholes

By Kelli Stopczynski
Published On: Feb 06 2014 04:23:39 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2014 05:42:43 PM CST

7 months after a sand dune swallowed a young boy, Mt. Baldy near Michigan City remains closed, and scientists are still baffled as to why the sand dune collapsed. WSBT's Kelli Stopczynski has the latest.

MICHIGAN CITY -

Scientists still don't know why a sand dune near Michigan City swallowed a little boy alive, burying him more than 3 hours. But 7 months after it happened, the National Parks Service says it has new information about the investigation.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s report about what’s underneath the Mount Baldy dune is complete, said Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore spokesman, Bruce Rowe. It shows 66 anomalies – spots where there’s something other than pure sand under the dune. Some of those are probably tree stumps or holes, he said, but at least six of the anomalies are metal objects.

Last summer, the EPA used ground penetrating radar to inspect the dune.

It all started July 12, when a 7-year-old Illinois boy fell in a sink hole while walking up Mount Baldy with his parents and a friend. He was trapped 11 feet below the surface until first responders made an incredible rescue, pulling him out alive.

The National Parks Service immediately closed Mount Baldy and it hasn’t opened since. Scientists from all over the United States have studied the dune to try and figure out why the sinkhole was there. Right now the best they can do is call it a phenomenon and keep the park closed.

“All national parks have some dangers within them,” Rowe explained. “For example, [on] Lake Michigan there can be a danger of drowning but we understand the processes and we can warn people when not to go into the lake, or if they're out at a national park out west, not to approach a grizzly bear. The thing that's different here with Mount Baldy is we really don’t know what's going on so we really don't know what to warn people about.”

Scientists at the National Park Service's Geologic Resources Division in Colorado are looking at the EPA report right now. They’re expected to give their analysis to the park by the end of February. Those scientists will also make recommendations on additional research or testing to be done at Mount Baldy.