Ulanda Williams, a 400-pound Queens, N.Y., resident has thanked God for her weight after falling six feet through a sidewalk in the Upper West Side neighborhood of the New York City on Friday.
Williams, 32-year-old social worker, was treated for cuts and bruises after the sidewalk where she was waiting for a bus on Second Avenue collapsed after 9 p.m. last week.
The social worker, who wore an arm brace as she left the hospital, had bruises and cuts all over her face and neck from the fall. However, Williams said her size may have saved her life.
"Thank God, they said that my size was the only thing that saved me," Williams told the New York Post.
The New York City social worker stands at an estimated 6-foot-5, according to the Post. She was lifted out of the 4-by-6 foot section of the sidewalk that had collapsed with the help of the Fire Department of New York and a crane.
Frank Lupo, 47-year-old maintenance worker who lives in the building next to the location of the collapsed sidewalk, said the fall could have ended the woman's life.
"It doesn't look it from street level, but that's one hell of a drop," he told the Post. "I'm glad she's alive."
The City Department of Buildings (DOB) inspectors have reported that the broken sidewalk led to a vault cellar in front of a building at the corner of Second Avenue near the 59th Street Bridge. According to the department, the building had several open violations, including a first-floor staircase that was loose and defective steel doors that led to the vault under the sidewalk.
Although the DOB website states that there was a 2011 complaint about the building, Williams said she saw no signs of issues when standing under its awning to avoid rainfall Friday.
"Nothing, nothing. It happened so instantly that I didn't even recognize anything. Cement was all over me, debris. They had a bed frame down there, broken pipes and wood pieces," Williams said. "It was a hollow place. I was standing there approximately 10 seconds and when that occurred, I just fell right through."
Remo Salta, owner of the Forward Realty company that owns the building, received a violation from the DOB for failing to maintain the building that is a part of the recently collapsed sidewalk. However, Salta told the New York Post that he had no issues with his building prior to the incident and that the city could have been doing work on his property that led to the recent incident.
"The city, I know, is constantly doing work in that area. I don't know if they excavated anything next to my property," said Salta, who purchased the residential and commercial property in 1995 as an investment. "I know they're always working on Second Avenue."
After hearing about the incident, Salta told the New York Post, "I didn't hear anything about this."
However, Bobby Robertson, 56-year-old neighborhood resident, admitted that Salta's building could use some improvements.
"When I'm standing here waiting for the bus, I take a look around once in a while and notice how decrepit the street and buildings look," Robertson said. "You can see cracks in the walls and in the concrete, too. The owners don't do any upkeep."
Williams was treated at New York Presbyterian Hospital for breaking her arm in two places, and later discharged.