WESTCHESTER SQUARE — A father and son were seriously injured when an air compressor exploded in the auto repair shop where they worked causing the one-story building to collapse on top of them Thursday morning, city officials said.
Benedetto Mondello Sr., 63, and his 36-year-old son, Bennedetto Mondello, Jr, were opening for business when the blast flattened the building where B&L Auto Repair has its office at 2601 Westchester Ave. about 7:50 a.m., witnesses, fire and building department officials said.
"We were pulling wood, brick and beams out of the way. I go to the other side of the building. I climbed over some rubble and I looked down and there was a hole in the ground, and there was the father and the son. I said, ‘Come on, come on, they’re over here, they’re over here. We found them,'” said 25-year-old Doroteo Sanchez.
“They were conscious. The father was up trying to get out. The son was laid out," Sanchez added. "There was a lot of blood covering their faces. They were hurt bad."
"The two victims we took out told us that they were the only two people in the building," said FDNY chief William Seelig. "We’ve conducted searches as far as we can. We’ve got camera searches down into the voids. We’re pretty confident that there’s no other victims."
One of the victims told officials that an air compressor in their building, which is adjacent to an auto repair shop, detonated and caused the collapse, but investigators were still looking into the cause, Seelig added.
Linda Mondello, the wife and mother of the two men, who go by Benny Sr. and Benny Jr., said their injuries do not appear to be life threatening.
"Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday and right now, I'm thankful my husband and son are alive."