Who is to blame for the sinkhole that swallowed a motorist?

Sinkhole victim speaks out about crash.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A crash victim recently released from the hospital spoke with NewsChannel 6 about falling into an Augusta sinkhole while riding his motorcycle this week. He has a skull fracture. In fact, you can see his stitches on his head. He also can’t raise his arm and he has a loose tooth. He told us he never saw the sinkhole and someone should take responsibility.

“I had some shirts I wanted to exchange,” said Don Merritt, who started his Wednesday with a trip on his motorcycle to Target at Augusta Exchange.

It ended with a trip to the hospital instead.

“So, I was going to go around the back to avoid the speed bumps and I remember making a turn and I wish I could tell you more, but I don’t remember,” Merritt told us.

Along with his memory of the incident, Merritt lost his 1982 Honda bike.  He said it was a gift from his brother. The 15-foot fall totaled the bike, which will cost $1,300 for the tow. Add that fee to the hospital bills yet to come and he said he thinks the sinkhole fiasco could run him around six figures, including the trip to the hospital in the ambulance.

We checked with the City of Augusta, but a spokesman there said representatives from the Augusta Exchange met with the city a day after the incident.  He said the Exchange accepted responsibility and will be doing the repairs.

Merritt said customers should be able to shop safely.

“It’s not good customer relations to have this thing hang out there. People knew about the hole and didn’t do anything about it.”

We reached out to Kimco Realty Corp., the property management company for Augusta Exchange, but no one has responded.

Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins

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