June 5 (Reuters) - A sinkhole on a street just south of Denver swallowed a police SUV on Friday, sending it 10 feet down into the hole and forcing the sergeant inside to climb onto the roof to clamber out of the pit, the local police chief said.
The sinkhole in a commercial section of Sheridan, Colorado, near a shopping mall appears to have formed after a heavy amount of rainwater leaked from an underground pipeline, said Sheridan Police Chief Mark Campbell.
The water eroded the asphalt on a section of road and the dirt underneath, and when the SUV drove onto that patch the ground collapsed underneath it, Campbell said.
The sergeant found himself between 10 and 15 feet down a hole with water at its base, and the sides of the sinkhole were too close to the vehicle for him to open the door, Campbell said. The sergeant had to climb out a window onto the roof to get out and emerged with minor injuries from the mishap.
The sergeant, Greg Miller, told local television station KUSA he was glad it happened to him and not a civilian.
"I hear the rushing water, and all I see is a dirt wall in front of me," Miller told the station.
Campbell said the sergeant could have drowned from the water in the hole had he been in a smaller vehicle.
A crew using a construction excavator was working to pull the SUV from the sinkhole and police will assess the damage to the vehicle. The sinkhole was still deepening, descending another 4 feet since police arrived at the scene, Campbell said. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)