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2 Investigators: Chicago's Missing Manhole Covers

CHICAGO (CBS) --  The 2 Investigators saw a minivan stuck inside a manhole -- and knew they had to investigate.

CBS 2's Dave Savini found thousands of missing, loose or out of place manhole covers, resulting in serious damage and death.

Esmeralda Gonzaga's minivan, for example, got sucked into an open manhole. She says the tire from a passing truck flipped the cover out of place, leaving her no time to react.

The 2 Investigators found additional loose manholes all across the city, including one on Augusta Boulevard. It shakes, rattles and pops every time a car passes or drives over it, making it a potential danger to motorists. Another one in the middle of Chicago and Western easily pops up, as well.

The covers are heavy, and can weigh up to 200 pounds. One flew through a vehicle's front windshield, struck a woman, and then blasted out of the back window.

"Every day is a struggle," said Caitlin Clavette's father. The 35-year-old was the woman killed in that 2016 incident. "Every day you miss her. Miss her smile."

The Boston teacher, athlete and animal lover was about to get engaged when the accident happened.

"We have suffered the worst thing that could happen to people," said Caitlin's mother.

And it's not just loose covers. The 2 Investigators obtained City of Chicago 311 data and found, since 2016, there have been 3,449 complaints of missing manhole covers and grates. The roads with the most complaints include: Ashland, State, Cicero, Kedzie and along Western Avenue.

"It's dangerous for us," said Gonzaga. "And I think the city should take care more of the street."

2 Investigators also found loose covers rattling outside UIC on Halsted, and numerous covers sinking into giant potholes on Grand and along Chicago Avenue.

In Gonzaga's case, a tow truck pulled her car out. Crews on the scene put the manhole back in place, and it was eventually replaced and secured with concrete around it.

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) says for every complaint, an inspector is sent to investigate. Often, these covers are owned by utility and phone companies and they also get alerted to make repairs.

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