I called the city’s 311 hotline today because early this morning a woman slipped and fell on the ice. When I got there she wasn’t moving. Her husband didn’t have a cell phone. He hovered over her, squeezing her hand. I think he was in shock. A bag of groceries lay next to her. They had gone out for bagels and orange juice. She wasn’t even trying to sit up. I almost slipped trying to reach her, it was sheer ice. She lay on her side. Her husband had placed his hat underneath her head.
She was conscious but speaking very quietly. Her husband didn’t have a cell and neither did I. A Time Warner truck slowed down— he too saw the woman flat out on the sidewalk, not moving— and asked what he could do. I said, “Call an ambulance.” Meanwhile other neighbors gathered. Someone tried the Fire Department. The woman on the ice still wasn’t moving. I asked her if she was cold. I thought I’d drape my wool coat over her. She whispered, “No, I’m sweating.”
As the ambulance from LICH pulled up, the husband said to me, “She pregnant.” I rubbed his shoulder and said, “I’m sure she’ll be fine.” He thanked everyone for their moral support, got in the ambulance and drove off. This woman fell on a stretch of State Street that is always a disaster in inclement weather. It is never shoveled or de-iced. I called 311 when I got home. I was transferred three times to various departments in HPD.
At one point, a woman said, “You are speaking to the wrong department.” And I replied, “Well I didn’t transfer myself!” Finally I reached a woman who told me I have to file the complaint with the Sanitation Department. I said, “Fine, put me in touch with them.” She said she couldn’t do that because they were involved in a snow removal action. They weren’t taking any complaints. “But wait,” I said, “Isn’t that the same time that people would complain about the sidewalks?” She didn’t respond to that. She only said, “I hope I helped you today.”
She did try. At least she was able to verify that, yes, it is the responsbility of the owner of a piece of property— whether its a condo, an apartment building, business or vacant lot— to maintain the sidewalks. So whoever you are, owner of an apartment building on State and Garden, get your act together and start doing your job. Or hire someone. It would be terrible if this morning’s scenario played out again on another sunny winter morning.
Brooklyn Heights resident LA Slugocki is a new contributor to BHB. Read her blog at http://www.laslugocki.blogspot.com.