08/09/2012 02:00 pm ET Updated Aug 10, 2012

Gophers Cause Woman's Death After Digging Sinkhole In Idaho Highway

Gophers are to blame for a horrific crash on an Idaho highway that killed a woman last month, officials said.

Sheriff's deputies released photos this week of the mid-July crash in Melba that killed 32-year-old Sonia Lopez, KBOI reported.

For a week, it was unclear why there would be a 15-by-40-foot hole taking up an entire lane of the highway. But investigators found that irrigation waters running through gopher tunnels under the road likely led to the massive rift.

At about 4 a.m. on July 14, Lopez hit the hole and was killed instantly, The Idaho Statesman reported. Her car was totaled, and it was reported that she wasn't wearing a seatbelt at the time.

Her family told the paper that she was on her way to make doughnuts at the grocery store where she works.

"It’s a tragic story and a tragic accident, Canyon County Sheriff’s Deputy Kieran Donahue told the paper. It’s just a very unusual circumstance, that a gopher hole allowed water to get under the roadway, which ultimately led to the collapse ... It looks like over a period of time, the water eroded (the earth) under the road and softened it up."

The airbags in her car deployed during the crash, which automatically turned on her blinkers. The lights alerted the next driver on the road to the sinkhole.

Hat tip: Fark



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