US /

He Was Waiting for a Bus in NYC. Then, a Horrifying Plunge

Leonard Shoulders is 'traumatized' after falling into sinkhole full of rats in the Bronx
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2020 7:04 AM CDT
NYC Man Falls Into Sinkhole Full of Rats
Stock photo of a rat that didn't torment Leonard Shoulders.   (Getty Images/anatolypareev)

Yes, 2020 has been a disaster so far, but at least for most of us, "sinkhole full of rats" wasn't also part of the narrative. Leonard Shoulders, however, can't say the same. The Guardian notes that although New York City is "used to tall tales of urban horror," what happened to Shoulders over the weekend is the true stuff of nightmares. Greg White, Shoulders' brother, says the 33-year-old was waiting for a bus in the Belmont section of the Bronx on Saturday when the concrete sidewalk beneath his feet suddenly gave way, sending him 15 feet down into a pit of active, curious rats. "He couldn't move, and the rats were crawling all over him," White tells the New York Daily News, noting his brother fractured his arm and leg during the fall. "He didn't scream, because he didn't want the rats going into his mouth." White says Shoulders was stuck in the hole for about a half-hour before help got to the scene.

Officials says firefighters yanked Shoulders out and rushed him to St. Barnabas Hospital. The New York Times notes that as uniquely horrifying as Shoulders' incident was, sidewalk collapses aren't uncommon in the city: Per local government records, the city has had nearly three dozen reports of sidewalks giving way since July of last year. Officials determined Shoulders fell into a vault (or "basement space," per the Daily News) that was found to be in a "state of disrepair," according to a Department of Buildings rep. The building next to it was ordered to be vacated due to the state of the sidewalk, and officials are working to pin down the vault's owner, who would have been responsible for maintaining the space. As for Shoulders, he remained hospitalized in stable condition as of Thursday. "He was like, 'Ma, the rats down there were ridiculous,'" his mother, Cindy White, tells NBC New York. "He is traumatized." (More rats stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.