SINKHOLE SURVIVOR: ‘I think it was an extreme fluke’

by Michael Mosher on August 26, 2013

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Richard Bird celebrated his 66th birthday on Monday, one day after he was pulled from a sinkhole that swallowed him while he was walking his two dogs with his wife.

With bruises on his face and his left arm in a sling, Bird told FOX 9 News it’s still too soon to visit the site where the accident occurred — but he’s thankful for all the emergency crews and Good Samaritans who came to his aid on Sunday.

“I feel very fortunate,” he said. “I could have been hurt a lot worse.”

Bird said he knows the torn left rotator cuff will eventually heal, and he’s not blaming anyone for the terrifying tumble he took on Mother’s Day.

“I think it was an extreme fluke,” Bird told FOX 9. “I don’t think anyone knew the situation existed.”

The situation was a sinkhole just off a sidewalk, turning a sunny stroll with his wife and their two dogs into a plunge into the Earth.

“I stepped on the grass and I remember doing that, but I don’t remember falling,” Bird recalled.

The hole at the corner of West 102nd Street and Scarborough Road was more than six-feet deep, and Bird explained that it was like a trap door opened up beneath him.

“The next thing I knew, I woke up with my face in the mud,” he said.

Neither he nor his wife had a cell phone, but a Good Samaritan nearby called 911 after his wife went for help.

“I think I was there a good 40, 45 minutes,” Bird said.

Emergency responders were able to extract him from the sinkhole, which investigators believe was caused by soil seeping into an underground pipe.

After the rescue, a new puzzle popped up — who will repair the problem? Bloomington Public Works says it isn’t the city’s responsibility.

“There’s some shared common space between some apartments and condominiums,” explained Scott Anderson. “They have some maintenance agreements and access agreements.”

Anderson said he has spoken with the owners of the Tarnhill, Lockmore and Summerhill apartments to get the problem fixed.

As for Bird, he said he probably won’t head back to the area any time soon — but he’s still holding on to his sense of humor while his two dogs help him recover.

Bird will need to undergo several months of rehab for his injury, but he hopes to return as a substitute teacher at Jefferson High School in Bloomington in the fall.

Full article…here

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