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Motorist thanks man who pulled him from Milwaukee sinkhole

By Phil Gast, CNN
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Sinkhole swallows SUV in Milwaukee
  • "The road just went out from under me," driver says
  • Mark Pawlik was walking past Thursday evening when he saw SUV disappear
  • Lance Treankler suffered only cuts and bruises
  • Milwaukee

(CNN) -- A Milwaukee, Wisconsin, motorist whose SUV fell into a large sinkhole thanked the passer-by who brought an end to the brief but terrifying ordeal.

"The road just went out from under me," Lance Treankler, the Cadillac Escalade driver, said Friday. "When I landed, my head snapped back. I went unconscious for a few seconds. When I looked up, I saw water run over me."

That's when Mark Pawlik, 46, who was walking Thursday evening near Oakland and North avenues on Milwaukee's east side, came to the rescue.

Pawlik told CNN affiliate WTMJ that he saw a nearby traffic light in the sinkhole and spotted the SUV heading right toward it. The vehicle disappeared and a traffic light landed on its roof. Pawlik saw the driver standing on the SUV's hood.

"I grabbed your hand. You looked at me and said, 'Get me out of here,' " Pawlik told Treankler during their reunion, filmed by WTMJ.

Treankler suffered only minor cuts and bruises in the incident, which occurred during a storm that brought heavy flooding to the city. It was not clear what part weather played in the sinkhole's formation.

Crews will be able to retrieve the SUV from the 20-foot sinkhole Friday evening, said Barry McNulty, spokesman for We Energies.

The sinkhole cut off power to the area, but about 200 businesses and homes should regain electricity Friday night, he said. Crews were building a temporary power line.

Peter Panos, who owns the nearby Ma Fischer's Family Restaurant, said power was restored to his establishment about 3 p.m. CT.

The SUV's engine remained running into Friday as police and fire officers decided how to proceed.

"I am very grateful for you helping me out," Treankler told Pawlik.