By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It’s a story that has a happy ending, but Councilman David Greenfield said he wants to make sure it’s a story that is not repeated.
In the wake of the successful rescue of a 10-year-old boy who fell through an open manhole on a Borough Park street on Jan. 14, Greenfield called on the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) to review the response to the incident in order to prevent a similar accident from happening again.
“First and foremost, I am relieved that this child only suffered minor injuries and will make a full recovery. Obviously this incident could have had a much worst outcome, which is why we need to immediately look into the city’s response beginning with the first 311 report of the broken manhole cover,” Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Midwood-parts of Bensonhurst) said. “We also need to know why the manhole cover was missing. After all, it is incumbent on the city to ensure that its infrastructure is maintained and properly working, and to have a plan in place for when situations like this arise."
DNA Info reported that 10-year-old Moshe Altman fell down the uncovered manhole at 13th Avenue near 49th Street at around 8:40 a.m. The child plunged approximately 20 feet.
The youngster was rescued by two Verizon workers, Mike Kroski and Tom Prestia, who happened to be working on a street nearby, and by members of Hatzolah, the volunteer ambulance corps. The rescuers lowered a ladder down the manhole for the boy to climb up, according to various media reports.
The youngster was taken to Lutheran Medical Center with leg injuries and was treated and released.
Greenfield said DEP officials stated that the agency was notified that the manhole was uncovered at 8:28 that morning after a resident called 311. The DEP dispatched a crew to the scene and a cop was assigned to secure the scene. But at some point soon after, the child tumbled into the 20-foot hole, Greenfield said. He requested that the NYPD and DEP investigate the city’s exact minute-by-minute response to the reports of the open manhole.
Greenfield also praised the heroism displayed by Kroski, Prestia, and the Hatzolah crew who saved the boy’s life. “These men from Verizon are to be commended for not hesitating and stepping up to help a fellow New Yorker in need. It is very fortunate that they were in the area at the time. I would also like to thank Hatzolah for once again answering the call and being there during an emergency in our community,” he said.
State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Borough Park) called the rescue “nothing short of miraculous,” and said that the heroes should all be commended. “As a community, we all owe a great debt of gratitude to the brave heroes who risk life and limb each day to save others,” he said.
But while everyone involved was breathing a sigh of relief, Greenfield said there are lessons to be learned from the accident. “We are very fortunate that this story had a happy ending, and we must take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.