New York City authorities are investigating a partial building collapse in Harlem that trapped and injured a man Thursday.
The building collapse occurred at an old three-story church at 316 W. 135th Street just before noon on Nov. 29. Authorities said the church structure had been in a state of disrepair for a long time and was undergoing a planned, controlled demolition when the first floor suddenly collapsed into the basement.
No workers were in the church at the time of the building collapse but a man on a motorcycle in the parking lot was covered with debris. The man suffered injuries believed to be non-life-threatening.
FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Joseph Woznica said, “Had he been there a half-second earlier, he would have been crushed by the weight of bricks.”
“All I heard was a loud crash,” Donald Ruff, who had just parked his car in the public parking garage below, told NBC 4 New York. “I was getting my ticket, came up the ramp and saw a guy on his motorcycle underneath the rubble.”
The injured man was taken to the hospital complaining of back pain. His condition was not immediately clear.
According to NBC 4 New York, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, a unit of the Department of Buildings, owns the structure, and city records show the building has been the subject of multiple complaints.
One complaint from July 10 stated the building “is unstable and leaning” and that it “looks like it is slowly imploding.”
Two additional complaints received on Sept. 21 expressed similar concerns:
“Caller states that building looks very unstable and leaning,” one of the complaints stated. “There are cracks in the exterior and it has been like that for a while.” The other complaint filed the same day warned that debris was falling off the building, according to NBC 4 New York.