Sinkhole from broken water pipe swallows van in Crenshaw

A van fell into a sinkhole in South Los Angeles early Tuesday morning created by a water main break
A parked van fell into a sinkhole created by a water main break in South Los Angeles.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A broken water pipe beneath a Crenshaw street opened a sinkhole that swallowed a van Tuesday morning.

A large patch of asphalt near the intersection of Buckingham Road and Obama Boulevard caved in around 5:30 a.m after an 8-inch water pipe burst, said Ellen Cheng, a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

The van, which was parked at the time, tumbled into the hole and landed on its side. No one was injured, according to Cheng.

The broken pipe left about 20 nearby residents without water and it was unknown how long it would take to restore service, Cheng said.

What caused the pipe to fail was under investigation. Cheng said the age of the pipe might be a factor.

“We’re looking into, you know, the history of the pipe and if there’s anything that can give us information,” Cheng said. “It’s a little bit early now to know.”

Los Angeles’ network of aging, increasingly fragile water pipes has been a problem for years with breaks damaging property and ruining streets.

A 2015 Times investigation found that about one-fifth of the city’s water pipes were installed before 1931 and nearly all will reach the end of their useful lives in the next decade. They are responsible for close to half of all water main leaks, and replacing them is a looming, $1-billion problem for the city.