Shaler woman escapes from car in sinkhole along McKnight Road
Natalie Huddleston backed her car away from the Hollywood Tans store on McKnight Road on Tuesday afternoon, heard a “thunk” and soon felt her car sink backward, the front sticking out of a hole opening in the parking lot.
“It was disappearing into this hole,” said Huddleston of Shaler. She called the store, and someone helped her climb out the car window to safety, but her 2002 Saturn was gone in five minutes, she said. She had just finished a tanning appointment about 4:30 p.m. at the business in the 7500 block of McKnight Road in Ross.
“We sat and watched my car sink deeper and deeper,” said Huddleston, who works at Allegheny Valley School.
Huddleston's car was swallowed in a sinkhole caused by the apparent collapse of an active but older and deteriorating storm drain, Ross police Detective Brian Kohlhepp said. He said the line was 48 inches or 60 inches in diameter.
Authorities temporarily closed the road southbound between Browns Lane and Ross Park Mall Drive, but two of the three lanes reopened by early evening. Northbound lanes remained open.
The Midas store and BJ Nail and Spa were evacuated, and the utilities to all three businesses were shut off as a precaution.
Another vehicle near the sinkhole was towed out of danger, and crews pumped the water out and removed Huddleston's car.
The area contains an underground stream, and developers built pipes to contain the water, Ross police said.
Kohlhepp said he had never seen a sinkhole caused by a deteriorating stormwater pipe.
“It's fortunate that this wasn't under McKnight Road,” Ross Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer said. “That would have been a disaster for the business district.”
Shaffer said the stream is called McKnight Run and that it flows into Girty's Run.
Kohlhepp said township officials had been in discussions with property owners about the deteriorating pipes.
“It's a private property issue, not government maintained,” Kohlhepp said.
Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Staff writer Michael Hasch contributed to this report.