Man falls through hollow sidewalk

A Thunder Bay man was lucky to escape injury when the sidewalk collapsed beneath him.

Thunder Bay neighbour witnesses surprising incident from his front window

A Thunder Bay man fell through this sidewalk on Norah Street in Thunder Bay. According to a Roads Department official, hollow sidewalks used to be common, but the city has been working to fill them in over the years. (Joshua Lynn/CBC)

A Thunder Bay man was lucky to escape injury when the sidewalk collapsed beneath him.  

A witness, Landon Coley, said the incident happened as the man took his pet for a stroll in the 200 block of North Norah Street on Thursday.

"I was sitting on the couch with the blind up and something caught my peripheral vision," said Coley.

"[The] gentleman, who lives down at the end of the street here, was walking his dog and the dog made it across and he didn't. All of a sudden I see him and he's resting in the hole in the ground."

Landon Coley says he was startled when he saw his neighbour drop through a sidewalk into an empy space underneath. (Joshua Lynn/CBC)

Coley was surprised by how quickly it happened.

"He stepped on the sidewalk block and it collapsed underneath him," he said.

"I ran out to see if he was OK. He said he was fine and just startled more than anything. But he just disappeared. It was actually hilarious, sad to say. Luckily he wasn't hurt, but he just went from about five-foot-something to two-foot-something, in the blink of an eye."

Coley also mentioned the man’s dog "was happy to see him down at that level … [the dog] reached over and gave him a kiss."

The man crawled out of the hole "and kept walking."

The city of Thunder Bay has barricaded the collapsed portion of the sidewalk until repairs can be made.

A spokesperson for Thunder Bay's roads division said sidewalks were built with hollow spaces underneath years ago on the south side of the city.  Crews have been inspecting them to try to catch problems before they occur but that's not always possible.

Coley was taken aback by the existence of hollow sidewalks.

"I didn't know [some] sidewalks were hollow," he said. "I'm definitely going to keep my eyes open now."

He added that he feels the city could have sealed off the collapsed area a little better, saying "there's kids in the neighbourhood."