Sinkhole Swallows Car in North Carolina

Katie Kindelan

A Duke University law student driving by a fast food restaurant near campus was slowed to a halt Tuesday when his car fell into a sinkhole.

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Rajiv Thairani, 27, from San Francisco, was driving his girlfriend's 2001 Honda Prelude in an empty lot next to a Bojangles restaurant in Durham, N.C., around 2 p.m. when he struck the sinkhole.

"I was going to use the lot to turn around so I just turned into it and my car is relatively low to the ground and the hole wasn't visible from the street," Thairani told "My initial reaction was that the ground underneath me had given way, like it had collapsed."

Thairani fell into an eight-foot deep sinkhole. The hole had appeared in the ground the day before but had not been properly marked off, according to Thairani.

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"This apparently happened to someone the night before, to a truck driver," he said. "His tires got stuck but his truck [an 18-wheeler] was too big to go in. They called 911 and put up caution tape and poles but by the next day the caution tape had blown away and poles had fallen over so it was no longer visible."

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Thairani's car had to be pulled from the ground using a wrecker and he fears it may be totaled. He escaped the accident without any injuries.

Officials closed off the lot as they continue to investigate whether the sinkhole could have been caused by recent heavy rains in the area or another factor.