Long-Crumbling Harlem Church Collapses, Briefly Trapping Motorcyclist: FDNY

WNBC 4 - November 30, 2018

by John Chandler

The first floor of a church in Harlem collapsed into its basement Thursday, and though demolition wiped out the building in seconds, the building has been in a slow, steady decline for years.

The FDNY received a call about a collapse at 316 W. 135th Street in Harlem at 11:52 a.m., it said.

Witnesses at the scene told NBC 4 New York a man on a motorcycle was leaving a parking garage behind the building when falling rubble from the building trapped him.

"All I heard was a loud crash," said Donald Ruff, who had just parked his car in the garage below.

"I was getting my ticket, came up the ramp and saw a guy on his motorcycle underneath the rubble."

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."

EMS rescued the man and took him away from the scene after he complained of back pain, according to witnesses. His injury was considered to be non life-threatening, the FDNY said. There were no workers inside the building when it collapsed.

The three-story church, which has slowly been crumbling over the last year, finally caved in under demolition.