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Sinkhole Swallows Excavator, Driver In Ventura County

MALIBU (CBSLA) — A stretch of canyon road in the Santa Monica Mountains remains impassable Monday after a sinkhole opened up, swallowing an excavator and its operator.

Yerba Buena Road north of Yellow Hill in the Ventura County area of the Santa Monica Mountains remains closed to traffic.

"I felt something weird. I thought I got a flat," operator Gilbert Beltran said.

Gilbert was clearing the road Saturday after torrential rain brought down mud and debris from the fire-denuded hillsides. The area was burned in the Woolsey Fire just a few months ago, and scorched trees are still visible along the road.

"It just gave way, and the back end fell in," Beltran said.

Moments after he climbed off the excavator and out of the hole, the 20-foot front-loader sunk even further into the hole, burying the cab and leaving only the bucket above the surface.

"I'm really fortunate, thank God," he said.

A pipe running underneath the roadway split in two for some reason, causing the sinkhole.

The day after falling into the sinkhole, Gilbert was back clearing Ventura County canyon roads.

The road will remain closed until further notice.

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