He’s a buried treasure hunter.
A scavenger plummeted through the ruins of a century-old Prospect-Lefferts Gardens building on Feb. 27, forcing dozens of New York’s Bravest to risk their lives in a dicey, hour-and-a-half rescue operation, according to a Fire Department chief.
“For everybody that operated in there, it was … very dangerous,” Deputy Assistant Chief John Esposito said at a press conference following the incident.
The looter was prowling the dilapidated Rutland Road structure between Brooklyn and Kingston avenues around 12:30 pm, when its ground-level flooring buckled, burying him waist-deep in rubble, according to Esposito.
Upwards of 80 firefighters hurried to his aid, and members of a special Fire Department unit executed the long and painstaking effort to extract the guy, who Esposito said had to be dug out “right down to his feet and shoes.”
Rescuers loaded the wounded man into an ambulance at 2:08 pm, which rushed him to a nearby hospital in critical, but not life-threatening, condition, according to a Fire Department spokesman.
Firefighters originally thought the guy was a construction worker, but the Department of Buildings — which ordered the three-story, mixed-use structure be demolished after part of it collapsed last November — later confirmed he was scavenging for metals and other valuable construction material at the time of his fall, and is not involved with the tear-down project, according to an agency spokeswoman.
And in an ironic twist, the Buildings Department approved the demolition permits for the site the same day as the incident, but inspectors who visited the property following the man’s death-defying drop discovered that workers got an illegal head start and already removed what remained of the structure’s top two floors, prompting them to slap the building’s owner with violations for failing to safeguard workers and keep it up to code, and for work without a permit, the spokeswoman said.