An off-duty policewoman was killed and two others injured when their cars crashed into a sinkhole in the middle of the road in San Antonio, Texas on Sunday.
Bexar County Sheriff Deputy Dora Linda Nishihara was driving down Quintana Road around 7:30 pm when it suddenly crashed down into a large gaping hole in the middle of the road, according to WOAI of CNN. Another car with two passengers fell in shortly thereafter but were able to make it out of their car when they were assisted by several bystanders who happened to be in the area at the time.
A sewer main caused gushing water and sewage to fill the hole and believed to have trapped Nishihara, whose car fell in roof down. First responders were reportedly having trouble trying to retrieve the trapped car passengers from the sinkhole but the edges keep on collapsing.
What turned out to be a rescue effort became a recovery operation Monday when medical technicians were unable to make it in time to rescue Nishihara. She may have drowned inside her car when raw water and sewage submerged the car further down the hole.
The sinkhole believed to be 12 feet deep exposed a main sewer line with swift-running water that made the rescue operation difficult. Add to that are the passing trains that could have also been causing ground vibrations that resulted to the sinkhole getting wider.
San Antonio Fire Department Fire Chief Charles Hood said that they did everything they can to try and rescue Nishihara. Nishihara has been working as Deputy since August 2009.
"This was a challenging recovering for us. We suffered a few collapses that widened the sinkhole, and our technical rescue team firefighters were exposed to raw sewage at a fast, flowing rate, as well as very cold water," says Hood.
"My heart and prayers go out to the family involved in this tragedy," says San Antonio Mayor Ivy R. Taylor in a statement issued to the press.
Nishihara's car was lifted out of the sinkhole around 1PM Monday. She was in uniform when she was recovered from inside the car.
"We were thankful that the body was in the vehicle because there were concerns that either the windshield was broken or the doors were open and the body could have washed downstream. This is tragic and surprising. Someone is driving 40-50 mph and doing the things we do while driving like listening to music and you have the road fall out from underneath you. That's a very sad situation," Hood added.