NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man who allegedly snuck onto a demolition site in Brooklyn had to be rescued from a mountain of debris after the floor collapsed.
The incident took place Tuesday afternoon on Rutland Road near Brooklyn Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
The man was trapped for about an hour and a half, while approximately 100 firefighters were on the scene digging him out as fast as they could – for fear one of the walls might cave in on them, too.
The Department of Buildings told CBS2 the vacant building already had numerous violations. There was an emergency order for it to be demolished, because it was a hazard to the public.
The DOB said the victim was a civilian scavenging for building material. He became stuck in rubble up to his waist 10-feet below the ground after the first floor collapsed.
The FDNY said he was conscious and communicating with rescuers as they dug him out by hand.
“It was a very dangerous operation. They had to shore up that side wall to make sure that wall would not collapse,” FDNY Special Operations Deputy Assistant Chief John Esposito said. “It’s a very old building, in bad shape. And we believe that the floor joist collapsed under him, while he was in there.”
EMS workers took his vitals while firefighters tried to get him out. Once free, he was taken to Kings County Hospital.
“They were able to remove him in critical but non-life threatening condition,” EMS Division 3 Commander Stacey Scanlon said.
A man named Vincent was volunteering for the church next door to remove debris from the vacant building.
“I didn’t want to see him, because I hate to know that happened to someone,” he said. “He’s not supposed to be here. He just came by to pick up the scrap metal and go.”
People who live in the area believe the church owns the property. They say it was once a three-story building and the site of a troubled nightclub.
Carol Thomas said she became concerned when she saw people working there last week.
“Last week, I saw them working on it and I knew it was going to cave in, because the building was abandoned for years,” she said.
The application for demolition was approved Tuesday, but the associated permits were not yet issued. The DOB told CBS2 the building had at least 10 open violations, including more that were issued Tuesday.