A 23-year-old man was on his way home from work when white bricks broke off a Game Stop video game store on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst and pummeled him to the ground on Thursday.
“It was just windy and it kept blowing and blowing and then one more big blow and I saw the bricks fall on him,” said Martin Winslow, who was parking his car in the municipal lot across the street at the time. “I know I saw this guy walking and then the bricks fell and I didn’t see him anymore and then I heard a woman scream, ‘He’s under the bricks, he’s under the bricks.’”
Though initially there was a discrepancy over the individual’s gender, the victim, who was transported to Elmhurst Hospital Center, has since been identified as Dworin St. Thomas.
Officials said he suffered a broken leg, multiple lacerations and a concussion but is expected to recover.
“There was a lot of blood,” Winslow said. “I knew he wasn’t dead, but I saw blood on his head and all over his body, but the firefighters and police came so fast so I think he is going to be good.”
The bricks also struck a nearby minivan, shattering the dashboard window and hood but St. Thomas was the only person injured.
The 40-by-10-foot section of bricks fell over at approximately 4:15 p.m. and by 5 p.m., a partial evacuation was ordered so neighboring shops and offices would be vacated while the FDNY and NYPD inspected the structure.
“I was going home for the day and I got into the elevator and heard them going around telling people to get out, but that wasn’t until 5:00 or so,” one woman said. “That’s when I found out what happened. I didn’t know that it was this bad. I just came out and saw all of the trucks and the bricks on the floor.”
“They came into the store, the police came in and just told us all to get out right away because the bricks,” an employee of a neighboring bodega said. “I didn’t feel anything and had no idea what was going on.
The Department of Buildings website showed that the FDNY requested a structural stability inspection due to the parapet collapse.
Later that day, the DOB sent several inspectors to investigate the structure.
After the inspection, the owner of the building, Queens Crossroads, LLC, was issued a Environmental Control Board violation for failure to maintain the building.
A DOB spokeswoman said the owner of the building will be erecting a sidewalk shelter around the rubble and will begin removing the debris as soon as possible.
A complaint lodged on the DOB website on the same day as the incident states that on the roof and corner above, there are two air- conditioning units sitting on a beam with a crack in the facade due to the building shaking and vibrating.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Winslow said. “I mean, the guy didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not like he was involved in a crime or something. All that is just bad timing and bad luck, a freak thing.”
The cause of the collapse is unknown and an investigation is ongoing.