A washout forced the closure of a portion of Northeast Charity Road south of La Center early Saturday.
Sgt. Alex Schoening of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said La Center-area resident James Sandvik was heading home from work at approximately 1:50 a.m. and was driving slowly because there was water on the roadway.
At the 31000 block, the road buckled, and deputies along with Clark County Fire and Rescue responded to a call of a vehicle in a sinkhole.
Schoening said Sandvik was able to get out of his vehicle and suffered injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening.
A plugged culvert, coupled with recent heavy rainfall, had eroded the ground, Schoening said.
Jeff Mize, spokesman for Clark County Public Works, said there were indications that beavers had been active in the area, but stressed that no one could say for certain whether the critters played a meaningful role.
Northeast Charity Road is a rural arterial that connects to Lockwood Creek Road in La Center and runs south to Battle Ground.
The washout also disrupted water and phone services in the immediate area, Schoening said. Those services were in the process of being restored Saturday.
Detour signs are posted, and drivers are encouraged to avoid the area if possible to reduce congestion.
Mize said that the sinkhole grew from the initial incident and was approximately 30 feet wide Saturday afternoon. He said the county will likely issue a news release Monday that includes an estimate about when the road may reopen.
In the meantime, drivers will have to take a three-mile detour.