Resilience Natural Disasters

California sinkhole swallows 2 cars; mother and daughter rescued by firefighters

The dramatic scene unfolded in a Los Angeles suburb.

Story at a glance


  • Calls about a new sinkhole in Chatsworth, a Los Angeles suburb, came in around 7:20 p.m. local time yesterday.

  • Four people were initially trapped, but two of them were able to exit their vehicle on their own.

  • “Firefighters conducted a high-angle rope rescue operation, using the aerial ladder, and safely extricated both patients.”

(KTLA) – A mother and a daughter were taken to the hospital Monday night after their vehicle, along with another, plunged into a sinkhole in a Los Angeles suburb.

Calls about the sinkhole, located in Chatsworth, came in around 7:20 p.m. local time.

A total of four people were initially trapped, but two of them were able to exit their vehicle uninjured before first responders arrived, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a news release

The road, which was continuing to “sluff and deteriorate,” required crews to secure the vehicles from further shifting to rescue the occupants.  

“Firefighters conducted a high-angle rope rescue operation, using the aerial ladder, and safely extricated both patients,” the release stated.  

Both sustained minor injuries and were taken to local hospitals.

California continues to be wracked by wild winter weather with floodwaters swamping towns, landslides, and hail continuing to pose a problem for many. The next system in a powerful string of storms also looms on the horizon.

Millions of people were still under flood warnings Tuesday, and more than 200,000 homes and businesses were without power because of heavy rains, hail and landslides. Thousands have been ordered to evacuate their homes.

At least 17 people have died from storms that began late last month, said Wade Crowfoot, the California natural resources secretary. The deaths included a pickup truck driver and motorcyclist killed Tuesday morning when a eucalyptus tree fell on them on Highway 99 in the San Joaquin Valley near Visalia, the California Highway Patrol said.

The storm that began Monday dumped more than a foot of rain at higher elevations in central and Southern California and buried Sierra Nevada ski resorts in more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) of snow.

Rockfalls and mudslides shut down roads, and gushing runoff turned sections of freeways into waterways. Swollen rivers swamped homes and triggered evacuation orders.

The latest atmospheric river — a long plume of moisture stretching out into the Pacific that can drop staggering amounts of rain and snow — began easing in some areas. But flooding and mudslides could follow, even during a brief respite, because the ground remains saturated.

More rain was forecast to arrive Wednesday in Northern California, and then a longer storm system was predicted to last from Friday until Tuesday, Jan. 17.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.