A woman fell 6 feet after the sidewalk of an inadequately maintained building collapsed under her. 47 year old Mariana Fuentes is a flower vendor in Washington Heights. Last Saturday around 7:40 am she parked her cart next to a building located on West 158th Street near Broadway. Suddenly the sidewalk collapsed and she fell 6 feet down into an abandoned underground vault. Her husband who was standing near her when the accident happened watched in horror. There wasn’t much he could do to help her as he was himself injured after having been run over by a city bus a while ago.
A good Samaritan who saw the accident, brought a ladder and went down to help Fuentes. He found her lying on the ground with a big concrete slab on her leg. He wasn’t able to remove it but he stayed next to Fuentes until EMS arrive. The firefighters were able to free her and bring her out on a backboard. She was transported to the hospital with serious injuries. Inspectors from the Department of Building came and issued a partial vacate order for the underground vault and the sidewalk as well as for an adjacent building. A sign on the building read “The Department of Buildings has determined that conditions on these premises are imminently perilous to life”. The hole was covered with police tape and plywood.
The Fuentes have been living on the block for more than 20 years. The flower business is the family’s only income.