Sinkhole that swallowed 3 cars was caused by old water main

As many Florida residents are aware, sinkholes often occur in our state due to Florida’s unique geology. Sinkholes can occur anyplace where there is a presence of soluble rock underground; here in Florida limestone is very prevalent, and the chemistry of groundwater and limestone can lead to sinkholes, which may damage property and even lead to personal injury.

Several states in addition to Florida also have sinkhole problems due to karst terrain–the presence of soluble rock underground–such as Tennessee, Texas and Alabama among others. Sinkholes, however, can also be caused by man-made conditions. This was illustrated last week during a rainstorm when a sinkhole enveloped three cars and injured one man in Chicago.

City officials have reported that the sinkhole was caused by aged infrastructure, a ruptured 98-year-old water main.

According to a news report, the sinkhole opened up in the middle of a road last Thursday, first swallowing a parked car, and then a pickup truck that a man was driving to work, and finally another parked car.

Luckily, no one was seriously injured in this case, but it does show the damaging power of sinkholes–man-made or otherwise. Authorities believe that the 1915 water main gave out, rupturing the sewer below. The water from the broken main rushed through the soil underneath the pavement and into the sewer, until the pavement could no longer bear weight.

As noted above, the sinkholes that we deal with here in Florida are typically caused by rainfall dissolving underground rock solubles in one form or another. In some cases this is catastrophic, and in others the gradual movement of the land over time results in significant property damage. Those who notice signs of sinkhole damage–sidewalk cracks, or cracks in the walls or floors of a property–may benefit from talking to a sinkhole attorney to learn whether there is sinkhole activity beneath the property, and, if so, how to obtain compensation for any damages.

Source:, “What Causes Sinkholes to Form?” Molly Cochran, April 22, 2013

Source: Chicago Tribune, “City: 98-year-old water main cause of sinkhole that swallowed 3 cars,” Kim Geiger, April 18, 2013