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Man Says Family Could Have Been Killed In Brooklyn Bridge Facade Collapse

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Forget about "London Bridge falling down, my fair lady" – it's the Brooklyn Bridge that visibly broke apart this week, or at least a small section of its façade.

As CBS 2's Steve Langford reported Thursday, huge blocks of a bridge underpass came crashing down during the storms Wednesday night, at an underpass at Prospect and Washington streets in Brooklyn near the exit ramp to Tillary Street and Cadman Plaza.

People from one Brooklyn family were thanking their lucky stars Thursday that they weren't killed.

"I thought everyone was buried under the debris," said Jerome Dilligard.

Dilligard had just returned to pick up his family under the overpass Wednesday night, only to find that part of the wall had collapsed.

"It's like big boulders – it's like big, huge, huge boulders – I mean, tremendous, tremendous size," he said.

Dilligard's family had been waiting at the site during the violent thunderstorm Wednesday evening, while he dashed to get the car. It was some sort of miracle that his family – including two young children and a 4-month-old baby – was not killed when the wall came down.

"I mean, the baby fell to the ground; some stranger picked up the baby; handed the baby back to, I think, my wife," Dilligard said.

The family was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center with minor scrapes. But the trauma left them badly shaken.

"It's a horror. It's a horror story. It's terrifying," Dilligard said.

By early morning, the city had completely cleared away the giant blocks from the scene. Police said construction work nearby may have caused the collapse when rain seeped into the concrete.

The mortar that held the giant blocks onto the wall was flaking right off a day later.

In a statement, the city Department of Transportation said in part, "DOT bridge personnel inspected the bridge last night and found no structural damage from the incident."

But those who frequently walk beneath the underpass were stunned.

"A little scary," one man said. "I mean, I walk by here every day, so I hope they repair it, and they do a pretty good job."

"I'm actually surprised by it, because I walk under it all the time," a woman said.

In all, five people were sent to Bellevue when the bricks came down.

The wall was not a retaining wall and the structural integrity of the bridge was not affected, officials said.

The city Department of Transportation said it is conducting a full inspection of the entire façade of the bridge.

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