What's a guy gotta do to get some privacy around here? A whole lot, it seems.
A Toronto man, whose nearly 30-foot tunnel in the woods baffled authorities for months and led to a minor terrorism scare, has come forward to explain his ambitious, if bizarre, project.
Elton McDonald spoke to the Toronto Sun, insisting that he meant no harm and the cave was simply a project he'd been dreaming up since he first started working in construction at age 17.
"It was not meant as a bad thing," the 22-year-old told the paper. "It was just something I always wanted to do...I knew I could do it. It was kind of a fun project for me and some friends."
Cops discovered the manmade cave in January in a patch of land near York University and a major tennis venue, CBC News reports. But McDonald tells the Sun it has been there for over two years.
"I was going to expand it to have a couple of rooms," McDonald said. "I was hoping to put in a TV. I did some barbecuing there. It was more a place to hang out."
Speculation about the purpose of the cave led to alarming theories about it being some sort of terrorism bunker ahead of the Pan Am Games. But the reality turned out to be much less sinister, when police determined McDonald's story about it being a personal hangout spot was truthful. In fact, Toronto police chief Bill Blair said it was "one of the coolest forts ever," according to the Sun.
As for why McDonald laid low after the media blew up the story, the amateur earth-mover simply was taken aback by the quickly escalating stakes.
"The kind of things they were saying it could be had me frightened,” he said. "They were saying it was a terror tunnel, for crime or connecting to Al-Shabaab, and I didn’t know what to do."
In fact, the real danger was in building the thing. McDonald says it took five months to dig out the cave, and while he and his friends took precautions such as wood beams and ensuring there was clean air flow, the dig was about as dangerous as you'd expect an unregulated civilian excavation project to be. After experiencing a collapse that was "heavy enough to crush a chair," McDonald pinned a rosary to the wall.
It's still unclear why he went to all this trouble just to have some me-time. McDonald claims there's more he'd like to clear up in future interviews. His boss at the construction job, who loaned him the equipment, told CBC News they've considered selling interviews to help McDonald pay the $800 fine.
One thing is clear: His days of subterranean grilling are over, as the cave has been filled in. McDonald told the Sun he was "sad" about that, but understands the decision.
"It was a secret for sure but it was not built for nefarious reasons,” he said. "It was a place that no one knew about."
What lengths would you go to in order to lock down a private chill spot? Tell us in the comments below.