A teenager in a rural Colorado town had sent his drone soaring in the sky to catch sweeping views of the floodwaters that were unleashed by recent downpours when he made a startling discovery on Saturday morning.
Josh Logue, 18, was flying the drone from his driveway when he noticed a dark spot on a road by the foot of a bridge, which crosses over a canal just two miles from his home in Brighton, a suburban city approximately 20 miles northeast of Denver. He moved in for a closer look.
It was a sinkhole. An S.U.V. lay on its roof inside it, wheels visible from the sky. With help from a neighbor, Mr. Logue sought help for the two people trapped inside the vehicle in rising water from the canal — a 66-year-old man and a 61-year-old woman inside a Jeep Grand Cherokee, the authorities later confirmed.
Firefighters from the Brighton Fire Rescue District rescued the people inside, who were taken to a hospital, Colin Brunt, the battalion chief on scene that morning, said.
After Mr. Logue spotted the vehicle, he and a neighbor, Ryan Nuanes, raced out to the sinkhole and realized that the two people were in need of help.
“So we get down there. The horn is blaring, and the car is underwater,” Mr. Logue said in a phone interview on Monday.
The wailing horn indicated that the accident was recent, said Mr. Nuanes, 46, who is an assistant chief at the Denver Fire Department. They called 911.
Then a man’s voice cried out from the wrecked S.U.V.
“He tells us he’s only got about six inches of breathing room,” Mr. Nuanes said in an interview, adding that the man told him that he had been in the hole for about 15 minutes. Mr. Nuanes had been at Mr. Logue’s home for a garage sale when the sinkhole was spotted.
Firefighters arrived and began to cut through the metal undercarriage of the vehicle to gain access to the people inside. But that effort would take a long time, and crews were concerned that the hole, which was at least 6 feet deep and roughly 10 feet wide, would continue to fill up with water, Mr. Brunt said.
To expedite the rescue, crews hooked the Jeep up to a pickup truck and rolled it over to allow access to one of its doors, Mr. Brunt said. The door was intact enough for rescue workers to open it and free the people inside.
Gabriel Moltrer, a trooper with the Colorado State Patrol’s public affairs office, said in an email that the 66-year-old driver suffered a “serious injury,” and reported no injuries for the passenger.
Mr. Moltrer said he could not elaborate on the driver’s injury, but according to Mr. Brunt, both occupants walked away from the crash site on their own and were transported in ambulances to the hospital. The driver and passenger were not identified, but they are residents of nearby Keenesburg, Mr. Moltrer said.
The sinkhole had formed under the vehicle as it passed over the road, Mr. Moltrer added.
Mr. Brunt said the roadway where the Jeep sank sees little traffic and that the sinkhole was not clearly visible from the ground, if not within a few feet of it.
“That’s another godsend from the kid with the drone,” Mr. Brunt said. “I don’t know how long these people would have been there if he hadn’t flown that drone right by there.”