Video Shows Woman Saved From Sinkhole Just Before Her Car Swallowed

"The hole was created with a broke twenty-four-inch waterline."

That childhood fear of getting stuck in quicksand may not have come to pass, but there's a terrifying variation of that nightmare that's very real: Sinkholes. Shocking video shows a Texas woman being rescued from her car just before a sinkhole in the roadway swallowed the vehicle. It happened in El Paso on Aug. 9. Read on to find out what happened, why sinkholes occur, and if they're becoming more common. 

Dramatic Scene at Rush Hour

El Paso Fire Department

The woman was driving her white sedan along Yandell and Gateway South streets in El Paso around 6:40 p.m. when a giant sinkhole opened up beneath her car. Dramatic video shows the car partially submerged in swirling water and sinking below street level. Several passers-by and El Paso firefighters took quick action and were able to pull the woman from the car via the rear windshield before it fell into the pit.

Fire Department Thanks Good Samaritans

El Paso Fire Department

No one was seriously injured in the incident. The driver and three firefighters were taken to the hospital for minor injuries. "Special thank you to the good Samaritans that assisted the crews in this rescue," the fire department said on Facebook

What Caused the Sinkhole?

El Paso Fire Department

According to KFOX14, a water main break underground caused the sinkhole, which is 15 feet deep.

"The hole was created with a broke twenty-four-inch waterline," said Gilbert Trejo, chief operations officer for El Paso Water. "This waterline is under high pressure. When the line broke, up to 10,000 gallons per minute of water was rushing through there," 

Crews were able to remove the vehicle from the sinkhole at Gateway Boulevard South and Yandell Drive Wednesday morning. The damaged vehicle was pulled out in pieces.

Trejo said the water main has broken two times in the last decade. "This line is approaching 70 years old. It's a cast-iron line here in one of the older parts of town," he added, noting that high pressure and heavy rain weren't helpful to the water main's antiquated condition. 

Is the Driver OK?

El Paso Fire Department

The 72-year-old woman who was in the car was released from the hospital Tuesday night. KFOX14 spoke with her family, who said they're grateful she's alive. They noted that she loved her car and might not understand it's gone, as she's still in shock over the incident. 

How Common Are Sinkholes And Why Do They Happen?

a massive sinkhole.

Road sinkholes are far from exclusive to Texas. In the last few years, these large holes have opened in streets in New York, New Jersey, and Oregon, just to name a few areas. According to National Geographic, sinkholes may be natural or manmade. They may happen when water erodes rock underneath, creating a void and causing the surface to collapse. Manmade sinkholes occur when construction compromises the rock, causing water to collect and erode the supporting rock. Scientists believe that global warming is increasing the frequency of sinkholes.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more
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