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Huge 10ft sinkhole swallows English teacher’s car whole outside California high school after road weakened due to heavy rain: Excavator also toppled in during recovery effort

  • A massive sinkhole outside a Southern California high school swallowed an SUV whole Wednesday afternoon and prompted evacuations 
  • The vehicle, owned by an English teacher at Santa Paula High School in Ventura County, was damaged after falling into the 10-foot-by-20-foot hole 
  • No one was inside at the time of the incident and no injuries have been reported but school was canceled Thursday ‘out of an abundance of caution’ 

A massive sinkhole outside a Southern California high school swallowed an SUV whole Wednesday afternoon and later an excavator that was attempting to pull out the car. 

The sinkhole opened up just after noon and the vehicle belonged to an English teacher at Santa Paula High School who was not in the car at the time. 

Students and teachers were dismissed Wednesday afternoon and classes were canceled Thursday ‘out of an abundance of caution,’ district officials said. 

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Tasha Wisniewski, the teacher whose car fell into the 10-foot-by-20-foot sinkhole, said she ‘couldn’t believe it’ when others told her about what had happened. 

The exact cause of the sinkhole is still under investigation at this time but geologists have pointed to heavy rain as the possible culprit.  

A massive sinkhole outside a Southern California high school swallowed an SUV whole

A massive sinkhole outside a Southern California high school swallowed an SUV whole

The sinkhole opened up just after noon and the vehicle belonged to an English teacher at Santa Paula High School who was not in the car at the time

The sinkhole opened up just after noon and the vehicle belonged to an English teacher at Santa Paula High School who was not in the car at the time

Photos from the Ventura County Fire Department show the teacher’s vehicle upside down in the hole, located next to a curb. 

‘It’s so bizarre and surreal, because it’s not really something you think about happening in this area,’ Wisniewski said to the VC Star

Wisniewski told the local outlet she is just glad no one is hurt but is still upset. 

The English teacher said the car, a 2022 Toyota RAV4c, was purchased in November. 

Emergency crews quickly arrived on the scene and evacuated students and staff. 

spokesperson for Santa Paula Unified School District said students were released around 1pm and the district did initially plan to reopen Thursday. 

That plan was reevaluated as local officials continued risk assessments.

‘Santa Paula Public Works is continuing to monitor the area and has called in an expert geologist to conduct an assessment about its stability,’ officials said. 

A decision on classes for Friday has yet to be announced, said Julissa Vasquez with the district. 

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After the sinkhole opened, some staff members were told they could not retrieve their vehicle due to their proximity to the dangerous hole. 

As officials worked to pull the car from the hole, an excavator being used fell sideways into the hole. 

Eventually, Wisniewski’s vehicle was retrieved Wednesday evening. 

'It's so bizarre and surreal, because it's not really something you think about happening in this area,' teacher Tasha Wisniewski told the VC Star regarding her car being swallowed up

‘It’s so bizarre and surreal, because it’s not really something you think about happening in this area,’ teacher Tasha Wisniewski told the VC Star regarding her car being swallowed up

This is the post from the Ventura County Fire Department alerting residents to the sinkhole

This is the post from the Ventura County Fire Department alerting residents to the sinkhole

This is Santa Paula High School in Ventura County, California

This is Santa Paula High School in Ventura County, California 

Luckily no students, staff, or pedestrians were injured in the incident and no one was placed in ‘imminent danger.’ 

Officials told local residents that their homes and buildings were safely out of the way of the hole. 

It’s currently unclear what the exact cause of the sinkhole is at this time but geologists told KTLA it could have been caused by the recent rain and weather in the area or a collapsed storm drain. 

City water and street workers are working with geologists to determine the cause and the condition of infrastructure in the area at this time.

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