A New Jersey sinkhole swallowed a worker and his forklift on Monday.
Authorities were summoned to a warehouse in East Rutherford after the man and the machine fell into the hole that opened up yesterday afternoon. The building was immediately evacuated.
The injured worker has been identified as Bronx resident Danny Rodriguez. After rescuers managed to pull him out of the opening, he was rushed to an area hospital for treatment. The Huffington Post reports that Rodriguez injured his back during his tumble into the hole.
It's believed that the man's life was saved by the forklift. The machinery ultimately prevented him from being crushed when he fell into the sinkhole. Although he hurt his back during the fall, he didn't receive any life-threatening injuries as a result.
"Fortunately for the operator, the forklift went straight down and didn't tip to the side because then he could have really been hurt," Police Chief Larry Minda told The Record.
According to WABC, property manager Bruce Jordan said that the concrete slab appeared to have crumbled while the forklift was driving across it. This created an opening into a forgotten basement beneath the warehouse.
The oily substance that authorities initially discovered inside the hole is believed to be the cooking oil and soy sauce the forklift operator was transporting when the sinkhole opened up. AM Express Freight administrator Sarah Entena said the warehouse is used to store non-perishable food items.
"He's the best forklift driver we have," Entena said of the injured employee. "The forklift protected him. And thank God for that."
This particular unit of the East Rutherford warehouse complex will remain closed until the sinkhole situation has been properly addressed. A construction engineer will assess what repairs will be needed to make the building safe for workers.
Officials are still unsure what caused the 10-foot deep sinkhole to open up inside the building in New Jersey. An investigation into the matter is currently underway.
[Image via Shutterstock.com]