California Highway Patrol officers are tired. For weeks they have been working to keep motorists safe from a giant sinkhole, closing the nearby road, erecting barricades and putting up signs that read “ROAD CLOSED.”
And yet, they say, the motorists keep on coming.
Three vehicles have fallen into the sinkhole in San Joaquin in the past two weeks.
“It happened again. We can’t make this stuff up,” the California Highway Patrol wrote on Facebook over the weekend, noting that the latest driver to plunge into the sinkhole was issued a citation for ignoring the road closure.
“‘ROAD CLOSED’ signs and barricades are strategically placed for your safety,” it added. “DO NOT drive past a road closure.”
It is not clear whether any of the motorists were injured when their vehicles fell into the sinkhole. The California Highway Patrol did not immediately respond Wednesday morning to a request for comment.
Sinkholes usually form quickly and occur when rainwater seeps into the soil, loosens sediment and causes the ground to collapse. This one in San Joaquin formed after deadly and relentless rainfall in recent months devastated the state, causing extensive flooding, mud landslides and sinkholes.
The sinkhole was reported on Kasson Road by the highway patrol on Jan. 17, with officials saying the road was heavily flooded.
On Jan. 18, officials shared a photo of a car stranded in the middle of the road, leaning to one side and submerged in water.
On Jan. 26, the California Highway Patrol shared an image of another car that had fallen into the sinkhole, and officials warned motorists again not to ignore the signs and barricades and to find alternative routes.
“THIS CAN’T BE REAL!” the second post read. “We’re at a loss for words. If only there were signs and/or barriers that could have prevented this …”
Damage caused by sinkholes has over the past 15 years cost the United States an average of at least $300 million per year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which says the actual figure probably is much higher.
It’s not just officials who appear to be exasperated by motorists’ ignoring the sinkhole signs.
Netomie Cardoza, who lives near to the sinkhole site, told CBS Sacramento that a “big crunch sound” could be heard when a car fell into the sinkhole. “We look out the window and, ‘uh oh,’ it’s another,” Cardoza said.
“It’s ridiculous, because it’s a big, giant barrier, and they were going around it.”