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Giant 15-Foot Sinkhole Swallows 2 Cars in California During Deadly US Storms

“The cars were shifting, moving.”

Two cars fell into a 15-foot sinkhole as California was battered by intense rainstorms this week. A Los Angeles Fire Department rescue team had to help the passengers out of their cars when the road collapsed in Chatsworth, San Fernando Valley, trapping the cars below. The sinkhole, which is still expanding, is estimated to be 40 feet deep and could get significantly worse, local authorities say. Here's what experts think might happen next.

Trapped In a Sinkhole


A mother and her teenage daughter had to be rescued on Monday when their Nissan fell into the sinkhole on Iverson road just south of the 118 Freeway, along with another pickup truck that fell on top of their car. The people in the pickup were able to safely exit their vehicle, but the mother and daughter were trapped.

Emergency Teams Respond


The Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire and Ventura Fire responded to the emergency and carefully extracted the mother and daughter from the sinkhole. The dangerous rescue operation took approximately an hour. "It was a dynamic rescue," says LAFD Cpt. Erik Scott

Rescue Operation


Cpt. Scott explains the rescue was delicate as the cars were still moving. "The cars were shifting, moving," he says. "Firefighters did an outstanding job with the calculated rescue. We lowered ladders and ultimately did what we call a high angle rope rescue where we had our big aerial ladder truck, lower a firefighter on a rope, secure a harness, lift those people to safety." 

More Rain Expected


More rain is expected in the coming days, and local authorities are concerned. "It's deeper, it's going to keep eroding away," John Lee, Councilmember for District 12, said. "So, what we need to do, we're expecting more rain, we have to figure out a way to divert the water. It's still very unstable, so we need to create a bit of a slope in the front end to be able to bring the cars out."  

Be Careful


Crews with the Los Angeles Department of Public Works are working hard to stabilize the sinkhole. People are being warned to take extra caution when driving in severe weather conditions. "It serves as a reminder, you don't ever want to drive across a roadway where you can't see your pavement," Cpt. Scott says. "This is exactly why we provide those warnings."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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