Sinkhole swallows pedestrian in St. Paul

2:59 PM, Sep 8, 2010   |    comments
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SAINT PAUL, Minn.  --  A man walking on a sidewalk in downtown Saint Paul  was hurt when the ground literally fell away beneath him.

A 15-foot-deep sinkhole opened up near the intersection of 6th and Wabasha Streets on Tuesday morning, right next to the Ecolab building, just as the man was walking over it. The man was identified as 55-year-old David Clark Tuesday afternoon by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said, "The ground collapsed beneath him.  He fell into the hole.  Bricks fell onto him so he was pretty banged up."

Fire crews had to act quickly to get him out because there was water in the sinkhole.

Zaccard said, "Water was filling the hole so we put a ladder down real quickly and helped him out, treated him for his injuries.  Our paramedics then took him to Regions Hospital."

Some passersby witnessed the rescue.  Kevin Jack of St. Paul said, "His whole head was covered in blood. But he seemed fine.  He was able to walk up on his own.  He was able to stand up on his two feet."

Juan Mendez of St. Paul said, "He looked to be really shook up."

The water was shut off to the Ecolab building as crews tried to figure out just what caused the sinkhole and the water leak.

Zaccard said, "We don't know the extent on the damage.  There's been a lot of erosion; a lot of earth is gone away."

The general manager of St. Paul Regional Water Services, Steve Schneider, later said at an afternoon press conference that the water leak had been located just off the water main on a service connection to the Ecolab building.  He felt any damage done by leaking water was limited just to the area of the sink hole.   So officials said they felt confident that other stretches of sidewalk and the people who use them, were not in jeopardy.

But Zaccard said it is still unclear if the leak caused the sinkhole or the sinkhole caused the leak.

He said, "We have to assess the extent of the damage."

Crews will work to repair the leak overnight.

(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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