- Associated Press - Saturday, February 22, 2014

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (AP) - A Long Island driver is back on solid ground after a sinkhole abruptly opened up beneath her car - with her in it.

Gayle Sorrentino was parking her car outside her Rockville Centre home Friday afternoon when she felt the ground give way. The front half of her Subaru Outback fell into the 10-to-15-foot-deep hole.

The car came to rest pointing nearly straight down, its rear wheels resting on the edge of the opening.

“I pulled in looking at my beautiful backyard, and then I was looking at a mound of dirt,” Sorrentino said.

After a 911 call, firefighters soon had a ladder extended down to her side window. Sorrentino, 69, climbed out safely and was unhurt.

Rockville Centre Fire Chief John Thorp praised Sorrentino for keeping her cool throughout, making the rescue easier.

“She was a champ,” he said. “You couldn’t have been much calmer than she was.”

Sorrentino says she did become a bit concerned that the hole might collapse when some sand started falling down within it.

A Rockville Centre Village spokeswoman says the hole may have developed over the top of an old cesspool.

The hole was filled up with sand, and Sorrentino’s car was pulled out little worse for the plunge.

“They were able to drive it down the driveway and park it on the street,” she said. “It’s like a little miracle.”

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