Watermain break causes sinkhole in Rio Rancho

One minute they were driving on a solid road, the next their entire SUV was underground in the middle of a sinkhole. 

A water main break in Rio Rancho swallowed an entire SUV early Friday morning, but the fire department says the driver made it out OK. 

It happened sometime around 3:30 to 4 a.m. Friday on Ivory Road southeast, near Hood Road. 

The break knocked out water service to about 25 nearby homes and force the nearby St. Thomas Aquinas School to stay closed Friday. 

Neighbor Rudy Sierra woke up shortly after the crash, as water from the broken main gushed down an arroyo bordering his property. 

“It was kind of a rude awakening, yeah!” said Sierra. 

Sierra says a Rio Rancho Police officer was at his door, asking Sierra if he wanted to move his RV, boats and cars from his backyard. The high-pressure water from the broken main was flushing water into the side of Rudy’s backyard. 

“He asked me if i wanted to move my vehicles, because the dirt on the other side of my wall was eroding,” said Sierra. 

Sierra says the water was initially a big concern. 

“I told him I’d have to hook up my batteries and get them started and move them to the front,” said Sierra. 

While Sierra didn’t end up losing his yard or his vehicles, he saw the SUV that fell into the sinkhole. 

“You could hardly see the top of the SUV,” said Sierra. 

Rio Rancho Fire says the driver managed to pull himself out of his disable vehicle. The fire department says the driver wasn’t hurt and refused a medical evaluation. 

Another neighbor and mother of two, Erica Griffin says she’s glad she wasn’t caught in it. 

“I’m sure the driver was really freaked out,” said Griffin. “I couldn’t imagine, that could have been us if we had hit it at the right time.” 

Rio Rancho city officials say they’re not sure what caused the water main break, but say they’ve made repairs and water service was restored Friday night.

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