Incident on State Street

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

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  • alex

    Congrats to BHB for getting linked by Gothamist:

  • Teddy

    cv, when I was child twenty years ago, I remember times I had to cross the street or actually walk on the street with my mom to avoid snow & ice on the sidewalks of the Heights. This neighborhood always had a bunch of “offenders” every winter when it came to snow & ice removal. Not much has changed. I think people who have lived here for many years have come to “accept it”. They do what they can to avoid it & continue with their business. With some owners, it will take a lawsuit to “wake them up”, there’s not much more you can do.

    It’s the people who move here from Manhattan, where every sidewalk gets much greater scrutiny from the city/property owners for numerous reasons such as a lot more foot traffic/increased potential for a lawsuit, who usually find it hard to swallow. In other words, don’t expect next winter to be any different, which is a shame when you think about it, but it’s just the reality of the situation.

  • nabeguy

    I happen to know that some of the properties mentioned, like north Cranberry between Hicks and Willow and the SE corner of Middagh and Willow; are owned by very elderly women (80’s plus) on fixed incomes who don’t have family nearby, and are probably too incapacitated both physically and financially to deal with the situation. Not a justification or defense of their passiivity, just a matter of fact. Don’t know about you, but it puts me in mind to volunteer my back and salt to them after the next storm.

  • formercranberry

    I know its not BK heights but last night I was walking to the Pathmark on St Felix St and saw a man on the curb who had fallen. He said he thought his ankle might be broken and when he lifted up his pant leg you could see the bone practically protruding from the skin. Even areas that are salted have slick spots and you have to be very careful especially at night. Nabeguy is right that many many homeowners in these areas are elderly and we would all benefit greatly by lending a hand to them.

  • Jeremy

    Nabeguy, my apologies for not writing clearly – what I meant is that I agreed with both the body of your Jan-12 post as well as your introduction.

  • Randy Haddock

    That’s terrible.

    Whatever happened to the woman? I hope she’s ok.

  • nazimova

    the construction on Pineapple St (71) has been frozen solid.. Somebody is gonna break their _ss on that sidewalk and OWN that Building .. mark my words !!

  • nabeguy

    No prob Jeremy…I just wanted to state my position a bit clearer myself.
    BTW folks, it’s due to snow again tonight in case anyone is interested in taking up the volunteer challenge. Your back may hurt like heck the next day, but the warmth in your spirit will last a lot longer.