NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A woman who was in the direct line of a traffic light pole that came toppling down Thursday morning on Manhattan’s East Side credits another woman’s fast actions with saving her life.
With tears and outstretched arms, Julie Shiferman squeezed Arielle Bakoss – both native New Yorkers who had never met before Thursday morning.
“I kept asking, ‘Where is the woman that saved me?’” Shiferman said.
CBS2 arranged their reunion following the hectic scene at Second Avenue and East 36th Street, just blocks away from the United Nations.
Both women were on their way to work around 9 a.m. when the traffic light pole gave way.
“As soon as I saw it coming behind you, I just started screaming my head off,” Bakoss told Shiferman. “I wondered if I was going to see somebody die.”
Pictures show the pole’s corroded base and rusted screws.
The pole crashed into the intersection, where the mother of two was on the phone with her father.
“If Ari didn’t push me, it would have fell on my head. Then, because she pushed me, I kind of moved a little. And then this light pole that’s what grazed my left shoulder and my left foot,” Shiferman said. “That was pretty fast.”
“A group of cops came in, and I think one of them had to kind of pull your sandal, which I think the edge of it was clipped by it,” Bakoss said.
“Yeah, it broke. It ripped,” said Shiferman.
“By a hair,” Bakoss added.
“Right by a hair, by probably less than an inch,” said Shiferman. “Twice. First by this traffic light and second by this light pole.”
Both women, beyond thankful for the outcome, wonder if something could have been done to prevent this.
“It was corrosion. We’re near the water and dogs pee on it every day. And I don’t know how old or how long it’s been there,” Bakoss said.
“These types of things shouldn’t happen. Somebody should be checking the bases to see if it’s sturdy,” Shiferman added.
But standing to face-to-face Thursday evening, they could take a deep breath.
“She saved my life,” Shiferman said.
“I didn’t do a damn thing,” Bakoss replied.
“My life is yours,” Shiferman added.
CBS2 reached out to the Department of Transportation, asking why the pole fell and how often poles are inspected. The DOT did not answer questions about inspections, but said a temporary signal is being installed as it investigates the incident.