Sinkhole neighbor recounts Good Samaritan rescue

Woman wonders ‘what if' as repairs continue feet from front door

By Myra Arthur - Anchor/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Nestled in the middle of crowded, bustling construction along Quintana Road is Gracie Rivera’s home.

Normally a quiet area surrounded by few neighbors, Rivera now lives yards from where a sinkhole formed, swallowing up two cars December 4.

Two drivers were trapped in the hole that filled with sewer water. One of them, a Bexar County deputy, died. A second driver was pulled to safety thanks to the help of Rivera’s neighbor.

“They were coming up the street and they saw like smoke coming out so he got off and ran,” she said. “And there was a man in there with blood on his face.”

Rivera said her neighbor told her he swam through the water but the flow was too much to reach the second driver.

Rivera’s neighbor was worried she was the second driver trapped. He called her immediately to find out.

“It could have been me, and I thank God it wasn’t,” Rivera said.

A portion of sewer pipeline collapsed, contributing to the opening of the sinkhole.

As of Monday, crews were staging above-ground pipeline that will be used to reroute the flow of sewer water. That bypass is scheduled to begin later this week.

San Antonio Water System officials have said they must remove water from the sinkhole to pinpoint exactly what created it.

Rivera says she called SAWS in November to report a sewer smell in the area.

SAWS says crews checked out the complaint and found no problems. As Rivera waits for the work to end, she’s thankful that she wasn’t hurt or worse and that her neighbor and friend was there to save a life.

“I’m very proud of Hugo (the Good Samaritan). He's hardworking and he's a kind person,” she said. 

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