Sunday, April 21, 2013

Danger in the Depths of Manhattan

Could the Killer Be the Mud?

The limos and cabs picked up and deposited their fur-clad passengers over on Park Avenue, local dwellers headed for Bergdorf, Tiffany's, the Colony Club and the glitzy bars downtown.

Nannies walked their charges in elegant strollers that cost more than their own modest housing rentals in the burbs.

Dogs of every breed, color and size ran in orderly, well-fed packs, with handlers from the elite high schools cheering them on to the next rest spot, in front of smiling doormen.

Little did they know that only a few blocks east, a fifty-one year-old construction worker from Lyndhurst, New Jersey, was fighting for his life, a struggle so death-threatening the New York Fire Department brought a chaplain to the man, trying to ease his agony, if he had to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The worker was stuck waist deep, almost 100 feet beneath Second Avenue, where frigid water and mud were churning into a "slushy tomb" to take him to his death.

The worker had lost his footing in a tunnel near 95th Street, less than four blocks away from the tony life on Park Avenue!

While the richbitches went about their safe, cozy lives, the hypothermic subway construction worker's life was touch and go in the thick and viscous mud below the ground, that threatened the best resources of the New York Fire Department, the anxious crews of paramedics, the chaplain and the scores of valiant subway workers.

They pulled in every known resource of the great urbanopolis—a pulley system, a backhoe, a manual griphoist machine—and the sweat and courage of over 150 firefighters, who "crouched in the slop to dig him out by hand."

Terrified not only of drowning, but of being swallowed whole by clay and mud, the man was finally rescued after his four hours of hell, accompanied by several firefighters who also suffered injuries in the same mud.

One of the main improvisations of the rescuers was to set up an intravenous tube in the mess and find a way to warm the victim.

Veterans of subway construction beneath New York's streets and waterways are always alert to the dangers that face workers underground.

But rarely had an urban rescue involved such ferocious enemies as mud, muck, man-made caverns, mattings, plywood, concrete, wall-bracing bars, ropes and suction.

But it was the mud that they recalled most. "As soon as I started walking down there, it felt like your boot was going to rip off your foot," a fire fighter said.

The muck had such a grip on the worker that as the firefighters finally pulled him free of the muck it pulled a bunch of his ligaments.

Reports that the New Jersey worker is on the road to recovery show crime does not always pay, even if the criminal is the underbelly of nature.

Perhaps one of my colleagues who writes those wonderful novels about man versus nature, like WABC's Bill Evans, will take on this story!

Maybe even YOU, my dear reader!

Thelma Straw( who lives two blocks away from the evil mud!)


  1. HOLY cow!!! What a story! It's what we all learned from last week. There are millions and millions of us. But even if we don't know one another's names, we know deep down that each one is precious!

  2. That reads like a Repairman Jack novel where the earth opens up in a non-descript house in Queens and swallows enemies of The Other...Bless the Emergency Service workers of the City, Angels they be!
    Bob K.