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El Paso Darwin Award Winner

Man Drowns in Sinkhole

Tammy Fonce-Olivas
El Paso Times

A man died Friday after his pickup fell into a sinkhole as he drove around barricades blocking a flooded area in the Lower Valley.

It was about 2:30 a.m. Friday when Andres Jurado, 57, apparently ignored warnings from water utility crews and drove his pickup around a barricade into a sinkhole in the 9300 block of Roseway Drive, which was created by a water main break, El Paso Police Department spokesman Javier Sambrano said.

His body was recovered by firefighters about 13 hours after he fell in the sinkhole.

"He was traveling westbound on Roseway and went around the barricade. They were trying to get him to stop, but he went around them and fell into the sinkhole," Sambrano said.

Jurado, of the 100 block of Juno, was unable to get out of his truck, which almost immediately became submerged in water. Firefighters who responded to the emergency estimated that the sinkhole was more than 20 feet deep and at least twice as wide.

The rescue efforts by the El Paso Fire Department's water rescue team were hampered by the deep, muddy water and by a whirlpool created by the pressure from the broken waterline, which also caused the rupture of a smaller waterline and a gas line.

Sambrano said the water pressure also compromised the stability of the street, causing pieces of asphalt to fall into the sinkhole during rescue attempts.

About a dozen people who identified themselves as relatives of Jurado gathered on the muddy street and watched as emergency crews pumped water out of the sinkhole to allow firefighters to search for the body.

Some family members, including Art Beltran, had been watching the rescue work since before sunrise.

Beltran said he and his wife were notified of the accident by a 4 a.m. telephone call.

The rest of Jurado's family members, including some who among themselves questioned the visibility of the barricades at the time of the accident, were too distraught to talk extensively to reporters about the tragedy.

"My only concern is just getting him out," Patricia Jurado said as emergency crews looked for the body.

Sambrano said the water main break was reported about 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

Hector Gonzalez, business manager of the El Paso Water Utilities, said the sinkhole was caused by a ruptured 24-inch waterline. The cause of the rupture was unknown Friday.

Gonzalez said the force of the water main break caused a break in a smaller waterline and a gas line. The water main break affected about 25 homes, he said.

The rupture of the 2-inch gas line caused three homes to be temporarily evacuated, said Gerardo Sanchez, a safety manager for Texas Gas Service.

The American Red Cross of El Paso assisted families from the water main break on Roseway.

Mark Matthys, executive director of the American Red Cross El Paso Area Chapter, said 11 families were evacuated when the first water main break was reported late Thursday.

"Most of them found places to stay last night. We have a couple that we've been in contact with (Friday) afternoon that needed additional lodging," Matthys said.

Ok, let me get this straight, this guy drove AROUND the barricades, PAST the work crews trying to signal him to stop and his family is questioning the visibility of the barricades at the time of the accident? What the fuck is wrong with those people?

This is particularly aggravating to me because I work on streets semi-frequently and we are constantly having to account for inattentive, rude, aggressive and just flat out stooooopid people who quite frankly deserve to have bad things happen to them because of their actions. If you see big bright dayglo orange barricades and cones, and people are waving at you to stop, here's a hint....

Fucking Stop!

If you go AROUND the barricades then, I'm sorry, but it serves you right if you fall into a 15 foot deep sinkhole and drown.

That's what the barricades were attempting to barricade before you cleverly went AROUND them.


Seriously, if these people even think about filing a wrongful death suit on his behalf then I will have found a new "lowest form of human life" to mock and deride.... well ok, they won't be worse that some politicians, but they'll be pretty damn low.


He would've never made Survivor...
:::: shakes head ::::
He'd have probably fallen out of the plane before he got there.
I hate to say that he deserved it, but man ...
Yeah, I'm increasingly more comfortable saying that people deserve shit like that when they do things that they know they shouldn't do.

Kind of like that kid in Superman II who almost fell into Niagra falls. We all have an instinct for self-preservation but I think that living in modern society it's way too easy for some people to learn to stop listening to it. They learn that they can do stupid things and get away with it... until they can't, but often that results in getting killed or maimed.

I mean, he went AROUND barriers and PAST the work crews who were hanging out there waiting to start the repairs as soon as the water was shut off etc... this wasn't a desolate site with no one around, it was clearly a work site with people there and he still managed to drive his stupid ass into a giant hole in the ground (granted it was full of water, but imagine how hard it would be to accidentally drive your car into a small lake).
I think you're right about why he didn't want to be stopped. Our bars close around 2-ish.

I just keep going back to the idea that if he hadn't seen the barricade in the middle of the street, he would have driven THROUGH it. The fact that he drove AROUND it makes me think that he knowingly decided that the big Road Closed sign did not apply to him. Maybe if he was drunk that would explain why he decided to do that, but I still find it mind blowing that his family is going out of it's way to try and find an explanation other than "he was a dumb ass".