Ground Opens Up Under Car as Sinkhole Forms on Brooklyn Street

NY Daily News - August 02, 2019

A massive sinkhole opened up in the middle of a Brooklyn street Thursday, nearly swallowing a car containing a mother and two children, officials said. The ground opened up near the corner of Decatur St. and Evergreen Ave. in Bushwick about 8:25 a.m., an FDNY spokesman said.

The 20-foot wide fissure, which appeared to be 12-feet deep, opened right in front of a Chevrolet, whose front wheels ended up teetering over the edge.

A mother and two children who were in the car managed to get out safely, witnesses said.

“It sounded like somebody crashed when I looked out the window,” neighbor Leonela Caceras, 24, said. “I saw the car there and a woman was getting out with her kids. The cops towed the car out."

The street was recently ripped up to put a gas line in and repaved, Caceras said. First responders blocked off the street, then handed the case to the city Department of Environmental Protection, which was making repairs Thursday.

City DEP spokesman Ted Timbers said the sinkhole was caused by a break in a 30-inch sewer pipe underground.

Water from the pipe had eroded away the soil under the street but since the break was at the top of the pipe, water and sewer services were never affected, Timbers said.

"It’s hard to know how long the break has been there,” Timbers said.“The sewers are under every street in New York City, so we do rely on the eyes and ears of residents to let us know if they see anything wrong.”

Timbers said there are 7,500 miles of sewers snaking underneath city streets. “If you put that in a straight line, it’ll take you to Los Angeles and back and then some,” Timbers said, adding that pipe ruptures “do not happen very often.”