Man rescued from collapsed construction site may have been looking for scrap metal

EAST FLATBUSH, Brooklyn — A man who was pulled from the rubble of a partially collapsed building on Tuesday was not part of a construction crew working at the site but instead may have been trying to take scrap metal when the floor gave way and he became trapped, authorities said.

It happened about 12:30 p.m. at 463 Rutland Road, near Brooklyn Avenue, in East Flatbush, FDNY said. The man entered the site, apparently after workers had left, and ended up dropping into the basement. He became trapped up to his waist in construction debris.

Initially, fire officials described the man as a construction worker, but a spokesperson for the Department of Buildings later said the man was not on the construction crew.

About 100 firefighters and paramedics frantically dug both sides to release him. The whole time there was concern that the remaining walls of the building might cave in.

FDNY Chief John Esposito said the building is “very old” and “in bad shape.”

“It was very dangerous for firefighters and paramedics in there, in the collapse zone,” Esposito said.

After an hour and a half, they pulled him out. The man was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

The building is owned by the church next door and is in the process of being remodeled, online records from the city’s Department of Buildings show. A complaint had been lodged that the building wasn’t being well-maintained and appeared to be on the verge of collapse.

A DOB spokesperson said demolition was not fully permitted yet.

A member of the construction crew who identified himself only as Vince said the man who was trapped never should have been on the property. He thinks the man was there to pick up scrap metal.