Rockville Centre woman drives into sinkhole

A Rockville Centre woman trying to park her Subaru in her driveway on Friday instead drove into a massive surprise sinkhole that had opened up, a village spokeswoman said. (Credit: Jim Staubitser)

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A Rockville Centre woman trying to park her Subaru in her driveway Fridayfell into a large hole that had opened up, officials and the driver said.

Gayle Sorrentino, who was rescued by Rockville Centre's fire and police departments, said she went to park her car in the usual spot, on the Driscoll Avenue driveway's apron.

"And the ground fell out from under me," she said. "I guess because I'm short and small, I ended up standing up so I didn't hit anything."

The front half of Sorrentino's white, four-door Subaru fell into the 10- to 15-foot-deep hole.

"I was only afraid that the sand around started to come down a little bit -- I just didn't know if it was going to stay stationary or start to collapse," Sorrentino said.

The hole appeared to be on top of an old cesspool, said Julie Scully, a spokeswoman for the Village of Rockville Centre.

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Rockville Centre Fire Chief John Thorp praised Sorrentino for keeping her cool.

"She was a champ," Thorp said. "I don't care who was down there; you couldn't have been calmer than she was," which made the rescue much easier than it might have been, he said.

The fire chief said he went down a ladder, pulled Sorrentino out through the driver's side window and "passed her up the line."

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Thorp added: "If they were going to put it in a textbook, that's the way it should be done."

The sinkhole made its appearance shortly before 1 p.m., according to Scully.

A relative of Sorrentino saw her predicament and called 911, Thorp said.

The early arrival of pothole season, thanks to the recent pattern of freezes and thaws, likely played a part in the hole opening up, Thorp said.

"There are probably going to be a lot of these popping up, especially with the weather we've had," he said.

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