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Sinkhole in East St. Louis swallows car

The sinkhole opened up July 4 after a water main break beneath the street surface, Illinois American Water said.
Credit: Rev. Dr. Larita Rice Barnes
Car swallowed by sinkhole in East St. Louis

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A sinkhole on an East St. Louis street caused major damage to the roadway and took a car down with it. 

According to a joint press release from Metro East Organizing Coalition and Empire 13, the sinkhole developed July 4 in the 700 block of North 32nd Street in East St. Louis while people were "out enjoying their day, as usual," the release said.

The two organizations focus on racial and economic dignity and environmental justice, according to the release. 

The release alleges that Illinois American Water had recently done work on the road where the sinkhole opened up. 

"There has been people who have been sleeping in their cars at that exact spot, children who walk and play in that area constantly. The entire street could have collapsed killing or seriously injuring dozens. East Saint Louis eroding infrastructure is a travesty waiting to happen and something must be done now," the release from the two organizations said, citing the incident as environmental racism. 

Credit: Rev. Dr. Larita Rice Barnes
Car swallowed by sinkhole in East St. Louis

After a request for comment on the incident Friday, Illinois American Water said the sinkhole was caused by a water main break that had developed under the street. The company says it was not aware of the main break until it surfaced.

"On Monday, July 4, we received a phone call from the East St. Louis Police Department about a car that had fallen into a hole in the street in front of this home. Unknown to us at the time, there was a water main break, under the street, directly in front of the home and underneath the car," the response said. 

American Water said that it sent employees to the scene of the sinkhole and a towing company was called to remove the vehicle from the hole. The owner of the car was then contacted. 

"The car’s owner was relieved that we found her and explained to her what had happened. This week, the car’s owner has been working closely with our insurance company on fixing or replacing the car," American Water's statement said. 

The company said in the statement it was grateful there were no injuries reported by the sinkhole and no one was in the car when it sank. 

Metro East Organizing Coalition and Empire 13 will be holding a press conference at 10 a.m. Saturday in the area where the sinkhole opened to "demand answers, accountability and action from all who are responsible," the release said. 

5 On Your Side will update the story with more information as it is confirmed. 

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