NEW YORK – A man is recovering after a ordeal in which he was swallowed by the ground after a sinkhole suddenly opened on a Bronx sidewalk over the weekend, causing him to fall about 12 feet.
However, it was what he saw next that he said was scarier than the fall itself, according to his mother, who spoke exclusively to our sister network News 4 New York.
A temporary barrier is now up as crews fix the hole where the terrifying scene unfolded, just feet from a busy bus stop. A bus stop that sees people walking and waiting for their transportation every day, exactly what Leonard Shoulders was doing when the sidewalk suddenly opened.
Shoulders was waiting for a bus on Third Avenue in the Bronx on Saturday in front of St. Barnabas Hospital at the time the sidewalk collapsed.
“It could have been anyone. It could have been anyone, it was a scary situation,” Cindy White, Shoulders’ mother, told News 4 New York.
Shoulders’ mother still can’t believe what happened to her son. In the surveillance video, Shoulders can be seen standing as the sidewalk opens and he falls. He tries to hold on to anything to keep from falling, but he can’t, and finally falls into the void, 12 to 15 feet below the sidewalk, as concrete and debris fell on his head.
“He shut down on his feet first,” White said. “I was standing up and the sidewalk just… It was like a suction. Like a sink. It just fell off.”
White went on to say that her son is traumatized after his fall.
“He is traumatized. Said it fell straight. Said he was falling, falling But the debris fell and hit him on the head, “White said.
Surveillance video shows people looking into the hole after Shoulders fell, asking him to wave his arms and yell if he’s okay.
They see him swing his arms, but Shoulders refuses to yell for help. His mother told News 4 New York why.
“He said, ‘Ma, the rats down there were ridiculous.’ He said, ‘they were so big’. She was afraid to scream because she thought they were going to put them in her mouth, ”said her mother.
Police and firefighters arrived and went to work, spending nearly half an hour carefully removing Shoulders.
Meanwhile, his mother is thankful that her son survived the fall, but wants to know what caused the sidewalk to open up and swallow her son.
“He’s alive. Thank goodness,” White said.
After the incident, building inspectors found the area under the sidewalk in disrepair. Three businesses remain closed until further notice due to the sinkhole.
According to the Department of Buildings, their investigation into this incident is ongoing.
“Possible enforcement actions are pending the results of that investigation,” the department said, adding: “The Total Eviction Order is still in effect and a construction fence has been erected around the building in the interest of public safety.” .