New York City Man Falls Through Sidewalk Into Pit of Rats

A New York man has been hospitalized after plunging into a sinkhole full of rats earlier this week. Leonard Shoulders, 33, was walking on the sidewalk as it gave way and he fell into an opening below. After landing some 10-feet under the surface of the sidewalk, rats began crawling over Shoulders, according to a report from CBS New York.

The incident took place in the Bronx near a bus stop on Third Avenue, and Shoulders was hospitalized with head and arm injuries. He was still hospitalized as of Thursday. CBS New York also released surveillance footage the network obtained of the incident, which shows the sidewalk giving way, sending the bystander to a nearby basement. You can see the tape yourself below.

According to the New York City Department of Buildings, this specific section of the sidewalk was in disrepair and was poured over the basement of an adjacent building. The sidewalk has since been shut down and the building the basement belonged to has been ordered to vacate until further notice.

"He went down feet first," Shoulders' mother Cindy White told News 4. "He was just standing and the sidewalk just — it was like a suction. Like a sinkhole. He just went down."

She added, "He was like, 'Ma, the rats down there were ridiculous.' He was like, 'They were like so big.'" In total, it reportedly took around 30 minutes for firefighters to remove Shoulders from the sinkhole.


The city revealed last year it had received upwards of 17,353 complaints of overzealous rats in all of 2018, a 38-percent increase over the past five years. The problem's become so prevalent, in fact, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has budgeted at least $32 million for rodent removal.

The increased rat-removal budget has led to a nine-percent increase according to de Blasio's office. "As a result, we saw a 9% decline in rat complaints across the city last year, the biggest drop in 12 years," a spokesperson for the mayor's office told USA Today last summer.