Bexar County Sheriff's confirm person killed in sinkhole is part-time deputy
The body of a woman was pulled from a Southwest Side sinkhole that suddenly opened up on Sunday night and injured two more people.
Bexar County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that Deputy Dora Linda (Solis) Nishihara passed away after her car fell into a sinkhole Sunday. Deputy Nishihara worked as a Reserve Deputy from August 2009 to October 2016.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with her friends and family," Bexar County Sheriff's Office tweeted. "We are assisting her family as they deal with this tragedy."
"My heart and prayers go out to the family involved in this tragedy," said Mayor Ivy R. Taylor. "The fire department, TCI and SAWS have been working to secure the scene of the sinkhole and will remain there until all repairs have been made."
Nishihara was driving a car along Quintana Road near Plumnear Road when it fell into the sinkhole shortly after 7:30 p.m. The car had considerable front-end damage and landed on its roof into the sinkhole.
Rushing water inside the sinkhole caused the car to become fully submerged. A second car fell in and two witnesses managed to pull a 60-year-old man out of that car. The man, and one of the witnesses who helped him out, were taken to a hospital for treatment.
The driver of the first car remained trapped through the overnight hours, despite efforts to rescue the her.
The sinkhole was approximately 12 feet deep, with a diameter that encompassed the width of the road. The bottom of the sinkhole was filled with swift flowing water. The source of the flowing water was determined to be a large sewer main that flowed entirely underground. SAWS and Public Works arrived and determined the area around the hole to be unstable and in danger of further collapse. SAWS decided to wait until day light to make a further determination of their ability to reduce water flow and potential collapse.
Chief Charles Hood of the San Antonio Fire Department said the swift-moving water, passing trains and a growing sinkhole were also making rescue efforts difficult.
By Monday morning, Chief Hood said crews were switching to a recovery mission.
"This was a challenging recovering for us," Hood said. "We suffered a few collapses that widened the sinkhole, and our technical rescue team firefighters were exposed to raw sewage at a fast, flowing rate, as well as very cold water."
A crane lifted the first car out of the hole by 1 p.m. After pulling it out of the sinkhole, Chief Hood confirmed the body of a woman in her 60's and wearing a uniform was found inside.
"We were thankful that the body was in the vehicle because there were concerns that either the windshield was broken or the doors were open and the body could have washed down stream," Hood said. "This is tragic and surprising. Someone is driving 40-50 mph and doing the things we do while driving like listening to music and you have the road fall out form underneath you. That's a very sad situation."
SAWS crews were on scene due to a massive sewage leak reported. They don't know whether the sinkhole was caused by the sewage leak or the leak was caused by the sinkhole.
The firefighters that were exposed to the raw sewage will have to go through a decontamination process.
According to SAWS, the road collapse is adjacent to SAWS 96-inch sewer line. There are also recycled and water lines in the area. Further investigation can start once the hole can be dewatered and stabilized.
Councilman Rey Saldana released a statement after hearing about the tragic events on Quintana Road.
“We must identify the origins of the problem that caused yesterday’s sinkhole incident, the City, in conjunction with the San Antonio Water System will find answers that are not yet clear today. I would like to acknowledge the heroism of two bystanders who helped rescue a 60-year-old man in a vehicle that had fallen into the sinkhole," he said. "That victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment and we wish him a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, the driver of the second vehicle was not able to exit the vehicle. San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood confirmed this morning that crews had switched from a rescue to a recovery mission. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim during this extremely difficult time.”