Long Island News

Sinkhole swallows car in Rockville Centre

Friday, February 21, 2014
Sinkhole swallows car with woman inside Woman safe after ground caves, swallows her and car

A woman's car was swallowed up by a huge sinkhole right in her own driveway in Rockville Centre.

VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE SCENE

"It's really hard to describe, it's just all of sudden swish, and stop," said Gail Sorrentino, sinkhole victim.

Gail Sorrentino took a very strange ride in her car Friday afternoon and she didn't even have to leave her driveway.

"I pulled in I'm looking at the arbor, and then I'm looking at the dirt," Sorrentino said, "The car just went down with no sound, no booms, no rattles no nothing."

After pulling into the spot where she's parked every day for years, she found herself and her car suddenly underground after the earth swallowed her Subaru with Gail still in the driver's seat.

There was nothing she could do but call 911.

"I said, 'I'm calling from my car which is in a sinkhole in my driveway.' And there was this pause at the other end. And she said, 'Ma'am?' I said, 'I'm in the car!'" Sorrentino said.

"You handled yourself very well," said John Thorp, Rockville Centre Fire Chief.

"Thank you!" Sorrentino said.

"You remained nice and calm through the whole thing," Thorp said.

Rockville Centre Fire Chief John Thorp was among the first to arrive at the bizarre scene. It was caused, he says, after years of decay of a century-old cesspool under Gail's driveway.

And after such prolonged cold, this week's dramatic thaw helped cause the biggest pothole he's ever seen.

"Yeah, that opens your eyes up. If you were nodding out before hand, after you see that you're wide awake, that's for sure," Thorp said, "The major concern was to get her out of there as fast as possible."

He grabbed a ladder and climbed into the widening abyss and pulled her to safety through the driver's window.

The car was eventually towed, mud and all, to the street in front of Gail's house.

Work crews filled in the cavernous hole with dirt.

Back on terra firma, Gail tried to go on with her night.

"It's just so weird! The circumstances? I mean if you tell this story to somebody? You think they'll really believe this? I don't know!" Sorrentino said.

(Copyright ©2014 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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