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Sinkhole swallows 3 cars

A sinkhole swallowed three cars in the South Deering neighborhood on the Southeast Side early Thursday morning.

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The driver, who fell into that massive sinkhole on the Southeast Side, has been upgraded to good condition at the hospital.

Witnesses say the man was trying to avoid the sinkhole, when the pavement gave way and his car fell in.

The sinkhole quickly grew from 20-feet to about 40-feet.

Witnesses say two cars slid in at first, and then a third as the hole widened.

Officials say the hole was caused by a water main that gave out and breached the sewer below.

Torrential rain caused massive flooding in the city of Chicago Thursday.

A sinkhole swallowed three cars in the South Deering neighborhood on Chicago’s Southeast Side near the intersection of 96th and Houston.  Emergency crews arrived on the scene just after 5 a.m. after two cars had been pulled under – the hole quickly grew from 20 feet to 40 feet.  A few hours later the ground caved under the parked car.

The driver of the silver pickup truck was on his way to work when the hole opened up and he drove into it.  Fortunately he wasn’t seriously injured.

Before the cars could be pulled out, city workers had to secure the edges of the sinkhole with metal plates.  The first vehicle- a silver pickup truck, was pulled out about 2p.m.  The next one, about a half hour later and the third car was pulled out about 3:30 p.m.

According to the City Water Dept the water main that broke is 98 years old.  Add the pounding rain from last night, and the situation got ugly.  Water service in the neighborhood was knocked out.

Widespread flooding throughout the city caused serious headaches for people trying to get to work this morning.  One intersection or underpass after another was blocked off.

On the northwest side in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, the Chicago River spilled over.  On the Southside, hundreds of basements quickly filled up with water

After assessing damage in areas hard hit by the massive storm, Gov. Pat Quinn is expecting to decide on Friday whether to declare communities disaster areas.

A sinkhole that swallowed three cars on the Southeast Side and injured one person was caused by an old water main that gave out, city Water Department Commissioner Thomas Powers said today.

The water main in the 9600 block of South Houston Avenue dates from around 1915, Powers said during a briefing on the storm at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

“When it broke, it breached the sewer below it,” Powers said. “As it undermined, as the water was flowing from the broken main, it undermined all of the soil underneath the pavement and washed it into the sewer.”

Witnesses said the hole opened up around 5 a.m. at 9600 South Houston Avenue, quickly growing from about 20 feet to about 40 feet. First two cars slid in, then a third as the hole widened, witnesses said. A fourth vehicle was towed from the edge as it was about to fall inside, witnesses said.

Merko Krivokuca was driving his silver pickup truck to work when the hole opened up and he drove down into it. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for “a couple of scratches,” according to his father, Peter Krivokuca.

Krivokuca stared in disbelief at the hole as cleanup crews hovered around the area.

Alejandro Filerio said he heard what sounded like a car crash early this morning. He looked out the window and saw a white car and a gold SUV across the street. Figuring it was just a minor accident, he went back to bed.

An hour and a half later, Filerio, 30, stepped onto his porch and saw the giant hole.

Ola Oni said she was about to leave for work at 5 a.m. but had not gotten in her car yet when it suddenly fell into the hole.

“It could have happened to me, I am lucky, I’m happy,” Oni said. “In this kind of neighborhood, I don’t think this should happen.”

She gestured toward the hole. “Look at this, this neighborhood is in danger.”

When Laide Giwa set off for work Thursday morning, a deep hole had opened next to her parked Dodge Charger. A truck and a car were already in the hole. Giwa, 57, ran inside to call police.

Forty-five minutes later, after firemen had arrived and told her not to move her car, Giwa watched as the hole swallowed her car too.

“I was really upset,” Giwa said. “I’m looking at my car going in the hole.”

A similar breach caused a sinkhole on the Northwest Side near Elston and Foster avenues in 2011, Powers said. He placed the blame on Chicago’s aging infrastructure rather than the heavy rains.

“What happened at both locations was a nearly hundred-year-old water main broke. And the water that was in that water main continues to run. It’s under pressure,” Powers said.”And at the same time the water main broke, it breached old sewer as well, at both locations, washed out the street, washed out all the soil. And the pavement couldn’t even handle it’s own weight any more, let alone the three cars sitting on top of it.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made the city’s aging water system a priority, pushing through water rate hikes to fund replacement of the pipes.

chicagobreaking@tribune.com

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

A sinkhole swallowed three cars in the South Deering neighborhood on Chicago’s Southeast Side early Thursday morning.

One person was taken from the hole, at 9600 South Houston Avenue, to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious-to-critical condition, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

The fire department responded to the scene around 5:30 a.m. when two cars were inside the hole. A third one slide into it after crews arrived.

Since the hole opened, it has expanded to about 40 feet wide. There is fear that it will get bigger as it continues to rain.

Crews with Chicago’s Water Management Department say they are pumping water out of the catch basins right next to the sinkhole to alleviate the pressure in hopes that it will prevent the sinkhole from growing.

Ald. John Pope tells WGN that an 8-inch water main was leaking through the night, and that leak coupled with the weather and soft ground caused the sinkhole.

On Thursday afternoon, crews were working to remove the cars from the sinkhole. Then, they will repair the water main leak.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

A sinkhole swallowed three cars in the South Deering neighborhood on the Southeast Side early Thursday morning.

A sinkhole on the Southeast side of Chicago swallowed three cars this morning, one of which was caught on tape. (WGN-TV)

A sinkhole swallowed three cars in the South Deering neighborhood on the Southeast Side early Thursday morning.

A sinkhole swallowed three cars in the South Deering neighborhood on the Southeast Side early Thursday morning.

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