A woman wedged feet-first into a cramped garbage chute at a residential building was hoisted to safety Friday by emergency crews.
Firefighters responding to a 911 call of someone stuck at a residential facility associated with the SUNY Downstate Medical Center discovered Jewel Matthew, who weighs about 200 pounds, stuck in the 2-by-2 chute on the building's sixth floor, according to FDNY Chief Butch Brandes.
A firefighter gave her an air mask so she could breathe and she started to drop down, sliding a floor and a half. Nothing prevented her from falling to her death into the garbage compactor in the basement of the building, Brandes said.
Emergency crews turned off power to stop the compactor and tied ropes to secure her. Using a combination of hand and power tools, they tore through the 18-inch by 18-inch chute door and breached the shaft through the wall.
"Once we had the shaft opened up, we extricated her," Brandes said.
The whole process took about 25 minutes. Brandes said New York City firefighters are trained to respond to incidents in confined spaces.
Firefighters aren't sure how she got into the chute — whether someone lowered her in or she went in herself — and she didn't tell them.
"She never spoke, never made eye contact, never looked directly in anyone's eyes," Brandes said. "I could see falling in headfirst, if you're putting in garbage and your momentum carries you, but feet-first? I don't know ... ."
The Downstate Medical center has several residential facilities, mostly used as student housing.