“It’s a miracle!” he announced. “I’m a miracle!”
The 53-year-old piano technician’s eyes were wild and his mouth was caked with black dust.
“The whole building fell on me!”
He said he was about to get dressed in his first floor apartment at the back of Absolute Piano when a thunderous blast tore through the building. Debris began raining down and he gave no thought to grabbing his wallet or cell phone as he fled. The store that had been his home and workshop for 10 years had suddenly become a place of all but certain death.
He somehow managed to reach the street as the whole five-story structure collapsed around him. He can only guess that his beloved pianos shielded him as they were thrown up onto their sides.
“I got out in seconds,” he later said. “It felt like an hour.”
The five-story building next door, which housed the Spanish Christian Church, also fell. Patterson then saw flames.
“No fire at the beginning, just a huge explosion,” he said.
The first firefighters were there within two minutes and one carried a critically injured child from the rubble onto Park Avenue. Another firefighter led Patterson over to an ambulance, where a paramedic hung a multi-colored triage tag around his neck, registering him as one of the three dozen to receive medical attention, many of whom were youngsters. He sat there as the air filled with smoke and ever more sirens.
“I didn’t expect my world to get blown up,” he said.
Dozens of neighborhood people came running, anxious to help
“Come on, let’s go help,” a 48-year-old building engineer named Mike Lewis cried out. “Hurry up! Hurry up!”
Lewis joined in freeing people from a vehicle that had been partially buried by the cascading bricks and concrete.
“I’m a New Yorker, man,” he later explained for his admirable act of service.
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