A water main break led to a car getting stuck in a sinkhole Friday at Mountain Brook Apartments at the foot of Signal Mountain.

Last updated at 6 p.m. with additional details.

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Sinkhole engulfs front of car at Chattanooga apartment complex [photos]


A water main break led to a sinkhole that engulfed a car at a Chattanooga apartment complex on Mountain Creek Road and left residents without water for more than 24 hours.

Karthikeyan Shanmugavel, 30, was heading to work from his home at Mountain Brook Apartments at the foot of Signal Mountain around 1:45 Friday afternoon when the road opened and devoured the front of his car.

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This broken pipe led to a sinkhole that engulfed the front end of a car at Mountain Brook Apartments May 27.
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Workers continue trying to restore water to residents at Mountain Brook Apartments at 2 a.m. Several have been working for more than 12 hours.
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A water main is replaced at Mountain Brook Apartments after it broke and created a sinkhole.

"Luckily, nothing bad happened," Shanmugavel said. "Initially I just thought it was water leakage, and I didn't think there would be a big hole there."

Another vehicle drove over the area seconds before the collapse with no issue, so Shanmugavel believed he would be fine doing the same, he said. However, the ground opened as he drove through the water and slowly devoured the front of his car. He was able to escape without injury.

He was able to get his personal belongings from the car once emergency personnel arrived, and he was joined by his wife. 

"Hopefully they can get it out quickly, and I can get to work," he said. "I have a lot to do."

Bystanders who helped Shanmugavel get out of the car said they also tried to get the car out of the hole but were unsuccessful. Emergency personnel were on scene but had to wait to remove the vehicle until it was safe. 

Shanmugavel's car was removed by 3:30 p.m.

Maintenance workers and plumbers later determined the leak was caused by a 13-foot crack in the water line. It was removed and replaced with a new pipe. 

It is the second time in the last several weeks residents at Mountain Brook Apartments have been without water. The pipe is the complex's property, according to Tennessee American Water.

The crew worked most of the night to fix the issue but were hung up when a final needed piece had to be driven in from outside the Chattanooga area. The crew returned Saturday morning, and the piece arrived at approximately 10 a.m. and was installed.

Additional damage occurred when the water was turned back on. The issue was fixed, and water was restored by 4 p.m. Saturday.

The crew urged residents to turn their water on slowly to ease the pressure.