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Man Dies After Falling Through Sidewalk Cellar Door, Officials Say

By  Trevor Kapp and Aidan Gardiner | January 19, 2015 8:58am 

 A man fell through the sidewalk hatch outside 1281 Bedford Ave. in Bed-Stuy, officials said.
A man fell through the sidewalk hatch outside 1281 Bedford Ave. in Bed-Stuy, officials said.
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DNAinfo/Trevor Kapp

BROOKLYN — A man died Sunday afternoon after plunging through a sidewalk cellar door in Bed-Stuy, officials said.

The man, whose identity was not immediately released, stepped on the door and tumbled into the basement of a vacant building at 1281 Bedford Ave., between Atlantic Avenue and Herkimer Street, about 3 p.m., according to FDNY and Department of Buildings officials.

He was pronounced dead at the scene and police said they were investigating the incident.

The DOB was also investigating the hatch, which is also known as a bilco door, records show.

Voltan Bagot, who is listed in city records as the landlord, couldn't be reached for comment, but his wife, Janet, said they hired an attorney after the incident.

"We’ve already called our lawyers because we know we’re going to be sued," she said.

The Bagot's bought Bedford Avenue building in 1983, but it has been vacant and fallen into disrepair since then, the wife said.

A 2008 DOB report said the front of the building was cracked and that bricks were missing from some of its walls.

Bagot said they have tried to prevent people from accessing the building as a safety measure.

"It was supposed to be barred up. We've been trying to fix it. Some funding is supposed to be coming," Bagot said.

She would not elaborate as to where the funding for repairs was supposed to come from or why it was delayed.

Neighbors were well aware about the problems the building posed.

"It doesn't surprise me at all. This building is falling apart. It's been abandoned for awhile. People go in there to spend the night," said Red Grymes, 21, who was working on a nearby demolition project. 

"It definitely ain't safe. It was a matter of time before something happened," he added.