EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Battered and suffering broken bones, a street sweeper who fell into a drywell Monday night spoke out about his ordeal from his hospital bed on Wednesday.

With his face a mess of swollen red and purple bruises, 50-year-old Joe Hranicka spoke for the first time about what led to his near-fatal fall that left him trapped inside a 25-foot deep hole.

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“I went face down forward, cracked my head off the side of the wall and then I landed,” Hranicka told CBS 2’s Katie Fehlinger. “I just thank God I’m alive, that’s all.”

A sweeper truck stands just a few feet from the hole where a man was trapped for eight hours after falling in. (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Hranicka was working the night shift and cleaning an empty parking lot on Jerusalem Avenue in Uniondale in a street sweeper when the machine kicked up some plywood. When he got out to check the problem, the darkness hid the fact that wood had been covering a missing grate.

“It’s about a 25-foot drop. There is a folding chair in there and a lot of debris and everything else. He hit the ground pretty hard,” Nassau County Detective Lt. Kevin Smith told reporters on Tuesday.

Hranicka Says He Is Forever Grateful To The Man Who Heard His Cries For Help. WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall Reports.

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Hranicka’s panicked cries for help in the dark lasted for nearly eight hours.

“I was bleeding profusely from my face and it was just dripping and I didn’t know how to stop it,” he said.

It wasn’t until Timmy Eareckson passed by on his bike around 7 a.m. the next morning and called for help that his cries were answered.

Hranicka has also hired a lawyer as police and OSHA investigate why the grate cover was missing in the first place. Police said the storm drain is on the private property of a real estate company — and that a company worker placed the plywood over the hole.

Hranicka will begin his round of two surgeries on Thursday, one for each broken wrist. In the meantime, doctors want to give his shattered ribs and bruised face time to heal.

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