A man fell 10 feet through a New York City sidewalk. Then things got worse: 'Rats crawling on him, he can't move.'

Joel Shannon, USA TODAY
·2 min read

A man is hospitalized with injuries after a New York City sidewalk collapsed under him, dropping him into a hole filled with rats, according to local media reports.

The incident happened near a bus stop on Third Avenue in the Bronx, according to CBS New York and News 4 New York. Family members told both stations the victim was scared to speak while stuck in the hole because he was afraid rats would get into his mouth.

The New York Times reports the victim, Leonard Shoulders, remained hospitalized as of Thursday with head and arm injuries.

Surveillance video published by CBS New York shows a person walking along the sidewalk on Saturday, then waiting by a building. After the figure takes a step forward, the sidewalk gives out and swallows up the person, back foot first.

"He went down feet first," Cindy White, the victim's mother, told News 4 New York. "He was just standing and the sidewalk just — it was like a suction. Like a sinkhole. He just went down."

She said he described the harrowing ordeal: "He was like, 'Ma, the rats down there were ridiculous.' He was like, 'They were like so big.'"

The hole was more than 10 feet deep and the incident ended after about 30 minutes, when firefighters were able to rescue the 33-year-old man, CBS New York reports.

"Rats crawling on him, he can't move ... he was just there," Greg White, the victim's brother, told CBS New York.

The Department of Buildings said the section of sidewalk was in disrepair and located above an extended portion of a building’s basement. The building containing the dentist’s office was ordered vacated until repairs are made, and the owner was ordered to immediately install a fence around the sidewalk.

New York City has spent millions trying to fix a well-documented rat problem in recent years. And sidewalk collapses are also an ongoing problem for the city. The New York Times reports the city has received dozens of reports of sidewalk cave-ins since July 2019.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New York City sidewalk collapses, man falls into hole filled with rats