It was Friday afternoon at the start of the rush hour and it took only seconds for one woman to go from ordinary pedestrian to injured victim.
The location was the corner of West 35th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan.
Eyewitnesses say she walked over the yellow grate made of a composite material and it somehow gave way, allowing her to fall some five feet down, into a damp pit.
"She was walking, she stepped right here on the corner and it just completely flipped over and she fell in," said eyewitness Burnesteen Davis.
Firefighters scrambled to pull the woman out of the hole, part of an unidentified utility project by New York City Water Works.
An NYC Water Works on scene supervisor said he was not authorized to discuss what happened, how the composite cover could have given way, or why more warning signs were not placed around the grate before the incident.
"The way they have it roped off now, with the garbage cans and everything, it was not like that," said Davis. "There were no cones up. There were no caution signs."AlertMe