By Joe Anuta
A 15.5-ton Sanitation truck smashed through the brick wall of a Maspeth maintenance garage and was left dangling three floors above 52nd Road Wednesday morning with the driver still inside.
At 9:28 a.m., Robert Legall, 56, was pulling a large, orange, salt-spreading truck into a parking space on the third floor of a city Sanitation Department repair facility to perform a checkup, according to Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, who arrived at the scene after the accident.
The truck then plowed through a brick wall, showering the cars and street below with debris. Three-fourths of the truck made it through the hole in the wall and, as it tipped downward, it wedged itself against the ceiling with Legall still behind the wheel.
“He’s lucky he didn’t go through the windshield,” Doherty said.
Ladder 163 responded within five minutes, according to FDNY Chief Joseph Pfeifer, the citywide tour commander, and crews raised a bucket ladder up and retrieved Legall.
Eyewitnesses said Legall collapsed as he got into the bucket. He complained of chest and back pain, but was not seriously injured and was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition, according to Pfeifer.
Nearly 100 bystanders, police officers and firefighters were in awe at the enormous vehicle sticking out of the wall, with many saying it looked like a scene out of a movie. A workman’s table was also dangling outside the crash site next to the truck. The debris from the accident did not harm anyone, although it did damage a sanitation worker’s car that was parked on the ground below.
Eyewitnesses said several people offered the worker a ride home.
A chain was attached to the Sanitation truck and was hooked to two tow trucks on the fifth floor to secure the vehicle. Doherty said a crane was being called in to lift the front of the truck so it can be pulled back into the building.
“Nobody was injured,” the commissioner said. “That is the life-saving thing that happened today.”
The truck is used by the city Correction Department to spread salt at Rikers Island and is brought to the maintenance facility for repairs from time to time.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.