Family's car swallowed by giant sinkhole after Bladensburg water main break

Sinkhole in Bladensburg, Md. swallows cars. (Photo: WJLA/John Gonzalez)

BLADENSBURG, Md. (WJLA/AP) - A 12-inch water main break caused a sinkhole in Prince George's County, swallowing up a family's car just after they escaped.

The back right end of the car was barely visible from the sinkhole near the intersection of Edmonston and Chesapeake roads in Bladensburg, near Kenilworth Avenue, on Tuesday morning.

Darwin Mendoza said he was in the car with his 8-year-old son, and two daughters, a 4-year-old and a 6-month-old baby, when it hit the hole as he was backing out of his driveway. The hole was hidden by water.

Mendoza said at first, only one tire sank, and that he and his children - who hadn't yet put on seat belts - quickly got out of the car. They then watched as the sinkhole got bigger and swallowed the car whole.

The 90-year old pipe that ruptured around 3:30 a.m. also resulted in the flooding of several nearby homes.

Luz Martinez, whose home was flooded, said the water was up to her knees in the basement.

Area residents, including one barefoot woman, could be seen carrying garbage bags full of their belongings from their homes in freezing morning temperatures.

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission crews replaced about 15-feet of pipe and put the water main back into service about 1 p.m., restoring water service for 77 customers.

Crews said it would probably take take a couple of days to get the damaged stretch of road repaired and reopened.

WSSC officials said this was the 375th broken or leaking water main to need repair in their service area since Jan. 1.