SAN ANTONIO (Dec. 5, 2016)-- On December 4th at 7:33pm SAFD was dispatched for a water rescue, and found two vehicles in a sink hole. The driver of the first vehicle had been helped to safety by a civilian prior to SAFD arrival. The driver of the first vehicle and a female civilian who helped rescue the driver were treated and transported to the hospital. A second vehicle was located at the bottom of the sink hole. Vehicle two was upside down, and approximately 90% submerged, with the cab completely submerged. The sink hole was approximately 12' deep, with a diameter that encompassed the width of the road. The bottom of the sink hole was filled with swift flowing water.
After a thorough risk assessment it was determined that attempting to enter the sink hole was too risky and the conditions inside the cab of vehicle number two were not consistent with maintaining life. The area around the hole was unstable and further collapses were witnessed by crews on scene. The source of the flowing water was determined to be a large sewer main that flowed entirely underground. SAWS and Public Works arrived and determined the area around the hole to be unstable and in danger of further collapse. SAWS decided to wait until day light to make a further determination of their ability to reduce water flow and potential collapse.
On December 5, 2016, SAFD rescue and medical personnel arrived on scene along with SAWS, to devise a plan to extract the vehicle. SAFD rescue personnel were deployed into the sinkhole to attach chains for vehicle removal. According to SAFD Chief Charles Hood, “Our rescue team members faced very dangerous conditions with an unstable sinkhole collapsing around them, and swift moving sewer water.”
The vehicle was safely removed at approximately 12:41pm; one deceased female victim was recovered inside the vehicle. "My heart and prayers go out to the family involved in this tragedy," said Mayor Ivy R. Taylor. "The fire department, TCI and SAWS have been working to secure the scene of the sinkhole and will remain there until all repairs have been made."
According to SAWS, the road collapse is adjacent to SAWS 96-inch sewer line. There are also recycled and water lines in the area. Further investigation can start once the hole can be dewatered and stabilized. Work on that will start later today.