In one of the surest signs of an impending apocalypse we have yet seen, a New York City man fell about 15 feet into a pit of rats when a sidewalk sinkhole opened under his feet. The ground simply split and swallowed its victim, 33-year-old Leonard Shoulders, as he waited for a bus on Saturday afternoon. Shoulders survived, albeit with a few broken bones, but his family says he is “deeply traumatized.” Which, yes.
The hellmouth reportedly wrenched open on Third Avenue near 183rd Street in the Bronx. One minute, Shoulders was just standing there, his mother — Cindy White — told NBC 4 New York; the next, “it was like a suction,” she recalled. “He just went down.” Surveillance footage corroborates her account: Shoulders took one step forward and the concrete ate him.
During his descent, “debris was falling and hitting him in the head,” White added. When Shoulders finally landed, White continued, he found that he was not alone. “He was like, ‘Ma, the rats down there were ridiculous.’ He was like, ‘They were like so big.’ He was scared to yell out because he thought they were gonna go in his mouth.” He kept his jaw clamped closed and instead waved at the onlookers gathering at the cavity’s rim — a wise decision, given recent reports of heightened rat aggression.
It reportedly took firefighters about half an hour to rescue Shoulders, during which time he was just down there with all the rats. According to his brother, he broke his arm and his leg, in addition to severely scraping his face. He is recovering at St. Barnabas Hospital.
As to how a city sidewalk ingests a pedestrian in the first place, the Department of Buildings inspected the neighboring building and found a basement in what must be fairly wild disrepair. The DOB issued a full vacate order, prompting three businesses to close until further notice. So, good to know they’re handling the situation, but then, it feels pretty safe to assume that our streets are all underpinned by giant churning rat nests. Who knows which of us might be next to take the plunge? This is, after all, the rats’ city. We’re just living in it.