Horse gets swallowed by sinkhole in Southern California Then Rescued

Horse gets swallowed by sinkhole in Southern California Then Rescued

Over 60 firefighters and crew members worked to rescue a horse that had been swallowed by a sinkhole in the San Fernando Valley Wednesday.

Air and ground crews from the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a home on the 10400 block of West Foothill Boulevard in Lake View Terrace at around 12:35 p.m.

In the home’s backyard, a 1,200-pound horse named Lucky, 20, had been swallowed up by a sinkhole with heavy soil trapping her body, leaving only her chest and neck above ground.

The horse’s owner was riding Lucky when they both suddenly started sinking into the ground. The rider was able to escape with minimal injuries, but Lucky was already trapped in the soft soil.

“I thought she tripped on a walkway and she had just fallen down on her front legs,” said Juan Lastre, the rider’s husband. “But my wife fell over [Lucky]. She stepped in this hole and just sank.”

Lastre tried to pull Lucky out of the mud, but couldn’t, so they called for emergency help.

Around 61 firefighters along with Animal Services and the Sanitation Department responded to the home. A heavy equipment excavator was used to dig and remove the soil surrounding Lucky.

“We gingerly used shovels to begin with, but that didn’t get enough so we brought in heavy equipment with a bucket,” explained LAFD Captain Erik Scott.

Fire crews used the heavy equipment to build a trench so that the removed soil wouldn’t fall back into the sinkhole. The horse appeared to be in moderate distress as crews moved quickly.

After three hours of working, Lucky was eventually strapped into a harness and hoisted out of the hole. Her owners said they’re thankful the 20-year-old Paso Fino horse was not left with any serious injuries.

“I thought she wasn’t going to be able to walk because she was in there cramped for three hours,” Lastre said. “But I just couldn’t believe it. She’s eating which is a good sign and walking. Her legs didn’t get damaged.”

Lucky was bathed and cleaned off and later seen enjoying snacks and the company of her stable mate, a horse named Cortez. She will be recuperating from the ordeal over the next few days.

Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the sinkhole.

“Though there have been strong rainstorms in that area in recent days and some speculation that the suddenly appearing sinkhole may be related to an old septic system, the specific cause of the sinkhole, and horse becoming trapped, cannot be formally declared by firefighters,” said LAFD.