POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A woman trapped in a building collapse in Dutchess County on Monday says she was struggling to break free in a pile of dirt and debris.
On Tuesday, she was recovering in the hospital. Surrounded by family, she spoke exclusively to CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
What remains of the collapsed building in Poughkeepsie was being torn down and carried away. The woman who was trapped for hours under its rubble says she’ll always carry the scars of the terrifying experience.
“I heard a big boom,” 43-year-old Tanya Hargrove said. “And then boom, it was on me. A bunch of debris. I was buried, I was buried. I remember thinking ‘I’m going to die here. I’m going to die.'”
It was an ordeal that tested her faith and her strength. A strong thunderstorm blew through the area, toppling several floors of a vacant building onto nearby Hottie’s Boutique and trapping Hargrove.
Web Extra: Extended Sit-Down With Tanya
The shop’s owner was stuck in tons of rubble, with her lower body unable to break free. Video shows Hargrove struggling to free herself. She says she remembers terrible pain and a relentless determination to survive.
“I was thinking ‘Oh kids, grand kids, my family and friends… I have so much to live for. I have to be strong,'” she said. “I started to scream, ‘Help! Help! Help!'”
Hargrove says the fear kept surfacing and she kept pushing it away. Then, her heroes arrived.
“I knew once I saw the first firefighter it was gonna be all right,” she said.
The danger of collapse loomed as first responders carefully picked through the rubble, but their determination to save Hargrove was greater.
“It’s high-risk, high-reward,” Fire Chief Mark Johnson said following the daring rescue. “In a normal circumstance we wouldn’t have anybody near this building.”
“I just wanted to get out of there and they got me out and I thank them,” Hargrove said.
It took hours to free her, but Hargrove woke up Tuesday with her mother and daughters at her bedside. She says she’s filled with deep gratitude in her heart and a new appreciation for life.
“I knew God wasn’t ready for me, that’s what I was thinking,” she said. “I was supposed to be dead, do you hear me? Five hours! But I’m alive and I have those firefighters to thank so I can’t wait to see them.”
Hargrove says she loves to cook Italian food, and looks forward to making a big tray of lasagna to bring to the local firehouse. She’ll have to wait a little while thought, since her injuries are significant and her recovery will most likely take months.