Toledo sinkhole swallows car: Driver escapes via ladder (+video)

Toledo sinkhole: A woman driving down the road in Toledo saw a sinkhole open up but couldn't avoid the sinkhole.

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A northwest Ohio sinkhole has swallowed a car traveling down a street and briefly trapped the driver, who climbed out after authorities gave her a ladder.

Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan says a water main break beneath the road may have caused the sinkhole Wednesday. The hole is estimated to be at least 10 feet deep.

Police say driver Pamela Knox didn't appear hurt but was shaken up and was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

Heffernan says Knox saw the vehicle in front of her start to slip into the hole but drive beyond it. He says Knox couldn't avoid it.

Officials used a crane to pull the car from the hole. Repairs to the road are expected to take days.

In March, The Christian Science Monitor described how human activity can contribute to sinkholes:

Changes in drainage due to construction or agricultural irrigation have been known to activate mass outbreaks of sinkholes, where dozens of sinkholes can suddenly appear next to drainage wells and farm fields. Drought followed by heavy rains can also instigate sinkholes as heavy, water-logged earth presses down on limestone caves suddenly devoid of buoyant water. The two previous deaths attributed to sinkholes both involved professional well drillers whose activities cracked the top of limestone caverns, causing collapse.

"Humans can [destabilize karst landscapes] by drawing down water tables or irrigate too much, increasing the weight of the mass of materials that sits on top of the void," says Jonathan Martin, a geologist at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. "Humans can modify the environment" enough to cause sinkholes.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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