NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - There were some alarming moments for a driver parked next to a building as part of its facade collapsed.
First responders were called to 203 East 38th St. near Third Avenue around noon on Wednesday.
A driver was injured. CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas was told one man had great reflexes and got to safety just in time. Bricks littered the sidewalk and street as the cleanup continued into the evening.
"The top of that building just came down. It's just coming down," said witness Corky Ramirez.
He told Cline-Thomas it started with just a few bricks, before quickly becoming an avalanche.
"It was a rumbling and then, of course, when the bricks hit the ground, it was a real thump," Ramirez said.
Witnesses said someone making deliveries was on the sidewalk in front of the parking garage when he sensed trouble and acted quickly.
"One brick fell, two bricks fell. He started running, and a whole pile of bricks just fell down," a witness said.
But a driver in a parked car was not as lucky. The bricks came crashing down on his vehicle, injuring his right leg. He was taken to the hospital.
The Department of Buildings was on the scene to determine how stable the structure is. It said a 45-foot by 10-foot chunk of bricks fell from the parapet level of the facade just before noon.
The building is a five-story, unoccupied parking garage.
"It's been closed up because of the pandemic, but it's been open on and off for the past year. I've seen trucks go in there and come out with debris," Ramirez said.
Engineers with the DOB went to the roof to survey the damage and try to get answers.
"I thought the building was coming down," one witness said.
"Your life flashes before your eyes," another added.
It all happened in an instant -- a moment many said could have been so much worse.
Part of East 38th Street remained closed as the cleanup continued.
For now, the property owner has to immediately install a sidewalk shed to protect the public.
CBS2 asked the DOB if buildings are being inspected regularly during the coronavirus pandemic, and its response was, yes, they are.
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