Work has been suspended on a section of the Second Avenue subway project following last night's dramatic rescue of a worker who became trapped 75 feet below ground.
The worker, who sources identify as Joseph Barrone, got trapped in mud up to his chest around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Second Avenue and East 95th Street, where excavation is being done for the future 96th Street station.
More than 150 firefighters worked for four hours to get the man free.
The concern was that if he moved he would sink even further.
The fire department says rescuers put a rope around Barrone to keep him in place and brought in pumps to remove water from the area so he would not drown.
"Essentially it's a lot of work with the contractor to determine why mud down there became so saturated with water, we can only speculate at this point but we need to find out exactly what happened," said Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
Barrone was conscious during the rescue, and a doctor was brought in to monitor his health.
He was finally freed around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday and lifted to street level.
Fire officials say Barrone and some rescue workers were in danger of being sucked deeper into the mud.
"It was acting like quicksand, acting like a suction and it was difficult trying to free the person's one leg that was trapped in that area," said FDNY Assistant Chief Ronald Spadafora.
"The biggest problem with the firefighters was trying to negotiate around the deep mud due to the suction effect. We had a few members who got stuck themselves we had to extricate. We had a member from Rescue 1 who was heavily involved in the removal. He actually got pinned in the mud," said FDNY Chief Donald Hayde.
A number of construction workers who spoke with NY1 say it's not hard to picture someone getting stuck in the "red clay" but that overall the work site is safe.
"It's safe down there. You've got hundreds of people working down there. Accidents happen, it's factored into the job actually," said Hubert Fonville, a worker.
Barrone was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center with hypothermia.
Three firefighters were hurt during the rescue, but their injuries are not serious.
The MTA says it is conducting an investigation.
Work on the new station has been stopped until the agency comes up with a plan to prevent similar accidents.