Michael Dupre, his wife and his daughter made it out of their Dunedin, Florida, house after noticing its screened-in room plunging into a pit in the ground.
His wedding ring did not.
As the family stood outside early Thursday, a firefighter buckled herself up, smashed a window, then snatched the ring from a desk in Dupre's office.
"And a few minutes later, the whole thing collapsed back down there," he said.
Sinkholes like this one in Dunedin, a city of about 35,000 people just north of Clearwater, are hardly rarities in Florida. Hundreds pop up in the Sunshine State each year, like the one in August that gobbled a condo building in the town of Clermont, CNN's John Zarrella reports.
Dupre not only knew of the dangers, but he also was doing something about them. After spotting "a few little hairline cracks," he contacted his insurance company and, after a lot of back-and-forth about what to do, had workers come to his western Florida house over the last few days to start stabilizing the ground.
"We were actually planning ..., when the whole repair was done, to put a pool in the backyard," he said, noting he'd already gotten estimates. "That (hope) is over.